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Full text of "Capital punishment in North Carolina"

THE LIBRARY OF THE 

UNIVERSITY OF 

NORTH CAROLINA 



^:. 




THE COLLECTION OF 
NORTH CAROLINIANA 



C3U3.2 

N87c 

C.2 




00006771255 



This book is due on the last date stamped 
below unless recalled sooner. It may be 
renewed only once and must be brought to 
the North Carolina Collection for renewal. 



aCg • ' ■ 






.SEP 4 1987 



Form No. A-369 



Digitized by tine Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 



http://archive.org/details/capitalpunishmenOOnort 



Capital Punishment 



in 



North Carolina 




SPECIAL BULLETIN NUMBER 10 

Issued By 

The N. C. State Board op Charities and Public Welfare 

Kate Btjeb Johnson, Comniissioner 

Raleigh, N. C. 
1929 



Capital PunisKment 



in 



North Carolina 




SPECIAL BULLETIN NUMBER 10 

Issued By 

The N. C. State Board of Charities and Public Welfare 

Kate Bukr Johnson, Commissioner 

Raleigh, N. C. 
1929 




The Electric Chair at the State Prison, Raleigh, 
IN Which Executions Take Place 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 



Page 

INTRODUCTION. 7 

CHAPTER I — HISTORICAL SKETCH 9 

Burning at the Stake 10 

Crimes Formerly Punished by Death 11 

Attempted Reform 12 

Provisions for Private Executions 13 

The Last Hanging 14 

The First Electrocution 15 

Limitation of Witnesses 15 

Statutes on Capital Crimes 16 

CHAPTER II — STATISTICS ON CAPITAL CONVICTIONS 18 

Table Showing Annual Number of Admissions to the State 

Prison of Persons Convicted of Capital Crimes 19 

Disposition of Cases 19 

Types of Capital Crime 21 

Educational Status of Prisoners 25 

Age of Prisoners 26 

Marital Status of Prisoners 27 

Former Occupations of Prisoners 28 

CHAPTER III — PRISON POPULATION 29 

Table Showing the Number of Persons Received at the State 

Prison in Each Biennium, July 1, 1908 — June 30, 1927 30 

Statistics for the Year 1927 32 

County Penal System 33 

Education and the Penal System 33 

CHAPTER IV — REPORTS OF ELECTROCUTIONS 37 

Jim Collins 37 

Arthur Montague 39 

David Jones 39 

Will Williams 39 



6 Table of Contents — Continued 

Page 
CHAPTER IV — Continued 

George Love 40 

John Leak and Kenneth Hale 40 

The Stewarts 41 

The Cains 42 

Mclver Burnett 43 

CHAPTER V — JUSTICE BY EXECUTIVE CLEMENCY 45 

Governor Morrison's Statement . 45 

Petition for Absolute Pardon 47 

Governor McLean's Statement 48 

CHAPTER VI — LYNCHING AND MOB VIOLENCE ■. 50 

Statistics on Lynching 51 

Table Showing Lynchings in the U. S. by Decade 51 

Table Showing Instances of Lynchings Prevented 51 

Table Showing Annual Number of Lynchings in N. C.l 52 

The Case at Asheville 53 

Governor McLean's Statement 54 

A Case in Franklin County 55 

CASE HISTORIES 59 

Foreword -. 61 

Cases A-Z 63 

Conclusions from Case Histories 172 



INTRODUCTION 



The purpose of this study is to discuss the infliction of the death 
penalty in North Carolina, particularly during the 19 years since the 
electric chair was established as the means of executing capital offenders 
in this State. 

There is given here a brief resume of the history of punishment by 
death in North Carolina, showing the gradual restriction of the appli- 
cation of the extreme penalty from about 20 crimes in Colonial days 
to four at present. There are presented figures on the number of per- 
sons convicted of capital crimes since the electric chair was instituted 
here, their distribution by race, crime and disposition of case, together 
with analysis of their educational, marital and occupational status and 
age. The general trends in criminal convictions in North Carolina dur- 
ing this period are shown, with figures for each biennium, and as a 
background, a sketch of the penal system in the State. In one chapter 
are quoted newspaper reports of several recent electrocutions. The 
related subjects of lynching and mob violence also are treated, and an 
example given of the operation of executive clemency to secure justice 
in a capital case. The latter part of the study is devoted to 26 detailed 
case histories of persons sentenced to death for capital crimes in North 
Carolina during the last few years. 

The primary object of the study is to present to the people of North 
Carolina, 'and to the State's judicial and penal officers and social workers 
material which hitherto has not been conveniently available and which, 
it is hoped, they will find valuable in its bearing on the grave problem 
of capital crime and the State's method of dealing with those offenders 
who are guilty of it. The facts presented here are eloquent in them- 
selves. These facts strongly suggest the necessity of further serious 
study of the subject of capital punishment and other social problems 
with which it is related, especially that of mental deficiency. This study 
does not pretend to be exhaustive, but is suggestive, rather than con- 
\ elusive. 

^ - A visit to the death row in the State Prison at Raleigh is an experi- 
*^ ence which every citizen of the State should have at least once. The 
prisoners in the death row are there because the people of North Caro- 
lina wish them to be or are indifferent to or ignorant of the social fac- 
tors responsible for their situation. That many persons condemned to 
death eventually receive commutation of sentence does not lessen the 
responsibility of the individual citizen in regard to the death penalty. 
As uncomfortable as it may make him, he should be willing to face 
the concrete results of whatever attitude, or lack of one, he has had 
toward capital punishment as it is found in that depressing group at 
Raleigh. 

It is hardly conceivable that a person can have the experience of 
such a visit without asking himself some very pertinent questions. He 
will see among these condemned men the poor and the ignorant — for 
the affluent and educated are seldom found in the death cells — the feeble- 
minded, the insane and the psychopathic. By talking with them he will 
discover that some of them are so simple in mind that they^have little 
conception of the seriousness of their situation, or the significance of 
the electric chair only a few yards away, as the one who naively re- 
marked, "This 'lectrcushion's shorely gwine teach me a lesson". He 
will find that many of them are illiterate, that others have no memory 
of a home, a church, a school or a community whose influence might 



8 Capital Punishment 

have led the wandering feet of childhood along a path that had a happier 
end. He will see that, if they are not also the victims of mental de- 
ficiency, these are for the most part the children of ignorance and neglect. 
He may come to the conclusion that the end, as bad as it is, is not the 
worst aspect of their situation, and that death is not the epitome of 
punishment. 

He may be led to wonder whether there may not be children in his 
own community who are starting on the same path, and if so, whether 
he cannot do something about it. And if these impressions give him 
a feeling of personal responsibility, the purpose of this study will have 
been largely accomplished. For its prime object is not an arraignment 
of capital punishment per se, but an effort to present to the people of 
North Carolina a true picture of what capital punishment means in 
this State. The North Carolina State Board of Charities and Public "V^T'el- 
fare hopes thereby to stimulate a sane, popular interest in a tragic human 
problem, from which, it is hoped, will come an enlarged social program 
of prevention. If the racial aspect of this study seems conspicuous, it 
is because it inevitably enters largely into this question in a Southern 
State. 

To Lawrence A. Oxley, Director of the Division of Work among Negroes 
of the State Board of Charities and Public Welfare, is due chief credit 
for the collection of the material, most of which is publicly presented 
here for the first time. Grateful acknowledgment is made to the officials 
of the State Prison at Raleigh for their cooperation in gathering the 
prison statistics used as part of this study. Members of the Institute 
for Research in Social Science of the University of North Carolina ren- 
dered valuable assistance in the preparation of the study, as did mem- 
bers of the State Historical Commission and Mrs. Lillian B. Griggs, 
Secretary and Director of the North Carolina Library Commission. Fur- 
ther acknowledgment is made of the assistance given by Assistant Attorney 
General Frank Nash, State Pardon Commissioner Edwin B. Bridges, 
R. Eugene Brown and Dr. Harry W. Crane, of the Staff of the State Board 
of Charities and Public Welfare and Col. F. A. Olds and Mr. A. R. 
Newsome of the N. C. Historical Commission. 

The study was edited by Nell Battle Lewis who rewrote and rearranged 
most of the material, drew the graphs and collected part of the data 
presented in the historical sketch. 



CHAPTER I 



HISTORICAIi SKETCH 



"Within the past 28 years more than 3,000 persons have been sent 
to the scaffold or the electric chair in the United States, and at the 
present time we are putting men to death to atone for their crimes at 
the rate of about 100 a year." (Raymond T. Bye in Capital Punishment in 
the United States.) 

In North Carolina, capital punishment, or the infliction of the penalty 
of death for crime under the sentence of some properly constituted 
authority, was established when the colonists came over to this country 
from England. They brought with them the English criminal law as 
it was then in force, which included the common law of crimes, together 
with the existing statutory modifications. Much of the English common 
law continues in force in this State, as defined by Section 970 of the 
Consolidated Statutes. 

In their first charter the Lords Proprietors of North Carolina were 
authorized "in person and by their deputies, etc., to make laws and 
to execute .... by imposition of penalties, imprisonment, or any other 
punishment, yea, if it be needful and the quality of the offense requires 
it, by taking away members and life .... provided, nevertheless, that 
the said laws be consonent with reason, and as near as may be con- 
veniently agreeable to the laws and customs of this our Kingdom of 
England". 

Gruesome pictures of old English methods of inflicting capital pun- 
ishment have come down to us, and the law books furnish corroboration 
of the most sensational fiction. Blackstone says that capital punish- 
ment "consists generally in being hanged by the neck till dead, though 
in very atrocious crimes other circumstances of terror, pain or disgrace 
are superadded; in high treason affecting the King's person or govern- 
ment, embowelling alive, beheading and quartering; and in murder a 
public dissection". An old form of sentence concludes "and there be 
hanged by the neck until he be dead, and that afterwards his body be 
dissected and anatomized". 

An example of the old English form of capital punishment for treason 
is found in the following judgment awarded in 1746. (English State 
Trials, Vol. XVIII, p. 502): 

"The judgment of the law is and this high court doth award: 

"That you, William, earl of Kilmarnock, George, earl of Cromertie, 
and Arthur, lord of Balmerino, and every one of you, return to the 
prison of the Tower, from whence you came; from thence you must be 
drawn to the place of execution; when you come there you must be 
hanged by the neck, but not till you are dead; for you must be cut 
down alive; then your bowels must be taken out, and burnt before your 
faces; then your heads must be severed from your bodies' and your bodies 
must be divided each into four quarters and these must be at the King's 
disposal. And God Almighty be merciful to your souls." 

The old law was not satisfied even by such violent measures, but 
upon every judgment of outlawry or of death, for treason or felony, a 
man was said to be attainted, attinctus, stained or blackened. The con- 
sequences of this condition were forfeiture of property and "corruption 
of blood", which meant forfeiture of rights of inheritance. This was 



10 Capital Punishment 

extended by "bills of attainder", special acts of attaint passed by Par- 
liament in particular cases not embraced by the general law. 

Burning at the Stake 

Both in law and practice North Carolina was the daughter of her 
English mother. In the early records of this State there are several 
instances of burning at the stake. 

Prior to 17 93 slaves were tried "without the solemnity of a jury" 
by three justices and four freeholders of the county, and sentence was 
passed by these persons "according to their discretion, as the nature 
of the crime shall require". (Act of 1741, Iredell's Revisal, Ch. XXIV, 
Sec. 48.) 

At such a trial the following judgment was rendered in Duplin County 
in 178 7 and may be found in the old court records: 

"At a special court begun and held at the Court House in Duplin 
County on Thursday the 15th day of March in the Year of our Lord 
1787, for the immediate Tryal of Darby and Peter two Negro Slaves the 
Property of the late William Taylor, Esq., now committed and to be 
tryed for the murder of the said William Taylor their Master, which 
court being summoned and convened by the Sheriff of the said County 
and being duly Qualified according to law, were Present, to wit: 

Thomas Routledge 

Joseph Dickson \ Esquires Justices 

James Gillespie 

Lewis Thomas "j 

James Middleton, Sr. I Freeholders. All being owners of slaves 

Isaac Hunter | and unexceptionable according to law. 

Alexander Dickson J 

"The said Negro man Darby being brot before the Court did Confess 
that he did on the Thirteenth day of this Instant Month felloniously 
Maliciously and Willfully murder his said Master William Taylor by 
striking him on the head with an ax into his Brains of which wounds 
his Master instantly Died whereupon the Court doth pass this Sentence 
in the word following to wit that the said Negro Man Darby be im- 
mediately committed to Gaol under a good Guard and that on Tomorrow 
between the Hours of one and four o'clock in the afternoon he be taken 
out thence and tied to a Steak on the Court House lott and there burned 
to Death and to Ashes and his ashes strewed upon the Ground and that 
the Sheriff see this Order Executed. 

"The said Negro slave Peter a boy about fourteen years of age being 
brought before the Court and examined did Confess that he was present 
when his Master the said William Taylor was murdered and that he did 
aid and assist his Brother the aforesaid Darby in committing the said 
Murder, the court having taken into consideration the youth of the said 
Peter and considering him under the Influence of his said older Brother 
Darby, have thought proper to pass this sentence in the following words 
to wit: 

"That the said Negro boy Peter be committed to the Gaol and there 
to Remain under a good Guard, till Tomorrow, and then between the 
Hours of one and four o'clock he be taken thence and tied to a Post 
on the Court House Lott, and there to have one half of Each of his Ears 
cut off and be branded on each cheek with the letter M and Receive one 



Capital Punishment 11 

hundred lashes well laid on his bare back and that the Sheriff see this 

order executed. 

"To which sentences the Court have hereto subscribed their Names. 

Thos. Routledge 
Joseph Dickson 
James Gillespie 
Lewis Thojias 
James Middleton 
Isaac Hunter 
Alexander Dickson. 

"Test W. Dickson, C. G" 

In November, 1780, a Negro slave girl in Johnston County was con- 
victed of poisoning the father and family of her master and was sen- 
tenced "to be taken to the ground of the court green and there be burned 
to death by a stake". 

In 1762 also there is record of a Negro slave in Duplin County having 
been burned to death. The Sheriff who applied the fire received 50 
pounds for doing so. These two cases are in the old court records. 

In New Hanover County, a Negro slave convicted of robbery in Feb- 
ruary, 1768, after having been hung was beheaded "and his head affixed 
up upon the point near Wilmington." This is cited in The Biographical 
History of North Carolina. 

There are frequent instances of unmentionable mutilations in the old 
records and in one case Dr. Anthony Newton was paid for amputating 
the hand of John Burnett, "a notorious felon". The nature of Burnett's 
offense which was thus punished is not stated. Public whippings, con- 
finement in the pillory, branding and cutting off the ears also were 
common. 

Crimes Formerly Punishied by Death - 

Numerous crimes were punished by death prior to 1868 when the new 
State Constitution limited the infliction of the death penalty to persons 
convicted of murder, arson, rape and burglary in the first degree. The 
Revised Statutes of North Carolina of 1836-37 (Ch. XXXIV, p. 191) 
list the following crimes as punishable by death without benefit of clergy: 
murder, burglary, arson (of dwellings, shops, warehouses, public build- 
ings, public bridges and private toll bridges) highway robbery, fighting 
a duel in which one of the parties had been killed, castration, rape, crime 
against nature, house-breaking in daylight when goods amounting to $2.00 
were stolen; malicious maiming (second offense), breaking prison (when 
the person had been imprisoned for a capital crime), a slave's embezzle- 
ment of his master's goods to the value of $10.00, stealing slaves, con- 
veying free Negroes out of the State to sell them, circulating seditious 
literature calculated to incite slaves to insurrection, and inciting slaves 
to insurrection by word of mouth (both, second offense). By the act 
of 18 41 a conspiracy of three or more slaves constituted a rebellion and 
was punishable by death (Iredell's Revisal, Ch. XXIV, Sec. 47). Though 
killing a slave ordinarily was murder punishable by death, escaped slaves 
were outlawed and might be killed without penalty, when public procla- 
mation had been issued against them. 

The penalty for bigamy, as set by the General Assembly of 1790, was 
death with benefit of clergy, unless the first spouse had been absent for 
seven years across the sea or was living, unknown, in distant parts. 
Divorce also was an exception. When benefit of clergy was granted in 
cases of bigamy, the court at its discretion might sentence the offender 
to be publicly whipped, fined, imprisoned and branded with the letter 



12 Capital Punishment 

B on the left cheek. Benefit of clergy for this crime was taken away in 
1809 but was restored in 1829. Benefit of clergy was also allowed to 
persons convicted of horse-stealing. Punishment for felonies under this 
benefit usually meant confinement in the pillory, public whipping, brand- 
ing, fine and imprisonment, any or all. 

"Benefit of clergy" originally denoted the exemption accorded to clergy- 
men from the jurisdiction of the secular courts. Later it came to mean 
a privilege of exemption from the punishment of death allowed to such 
persons as were clerks, or who could read. This privilege of exemption 
from capital punishment was anciently allowed to clergymen only, but 
afterwards to all who were connected with the church, and still later to 
all persons who could read, whether ecclesiastics or laymen. When a 
person had claimed this exemption, which was known as "praying his 
clergy", he was given a psalm to read as a test of his clerical character. 
Usually this psalm was the 51st which begins, "Have mercy upon me, 
O God, according to thy loving-kindness: according unto the multitude 
of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions". 

The privilege of benefit of clergy operated greatly to mitigate the ex- 
treme rigor of the old criminal laws, but it was found to involve such 
gross abuses that the English Parliament began to enact that certain 
crimes should be felonies "without benefit of clergy". It was abolished 
in England during the reign of George IV, and for capital crimes against 
the United States by Congress in 1790 after which at different times it 
was abolished by the States. It existed in North Carolina well into the 
eighteenth century. But its abolition is noted in the Revised Code of 
North Carolina of 18 5 4. 

Attempted Reform 

An interesting, if abortive, attempt at reform of the punishment for 
at least one capital crime occurred in this State in 1786 when the Gen- 
eral Assembly declared that "Whereas it is inconsistent with the policy 
of a well-regulated government that the crime of horse-stealing should 
be subject to a punishment as that which is inflicted for the most atrocious 
offense of which human nature is capable, and whereas from the pun- 
ishment in its nature and gradation bearing no proportion to the guilt, 
the persons injured from compassion forbear to prosecute, juries from 
the same motive, too often acquit and if convictions are had, pardons 
are extended to the guilty, whereby the present mode of punishment is 
found inadequate to the evil" and enacted that for the first offense of 
horse-stealing the convicted person should stand one hour in the pillory, 
be publicly whipped on the bare back with not more than 39 lashes well 
laid on, have both his ears nailed to the pillory and then cut off, and 
be branded "in a plain and visible manner" on the right cheek with the 
letter H, and on the left with the letter T, three-quarters of an inch 
long and half an inch wide. But the penalty of death without benefit 
of clergy was retained for the second offense (State Records of North 
Carolina, Laws, 1777-1788, Vol. XXIV, p. 795). 

Perhaps this amelioration of punishment for the horse-thief, slight 
though it was, was considered sentimental at that time, for the General 
Assembly of 1790 re-enacted the death penalty without benefit of clergy 
for the first offense of horse-stealing, declaring in regard to the reform 
four years earlier that "the present method of punishment is not attended 
with the salutary effect intended by the Legislature". (State Records 
of N. C, Laws 1788-90, Vol. XXV, p. 74.) 

In 1817 the first offense of horse-stealing was made "clergiable"; by 
the Revisal of 183 6-37 benefit of clergy is allowed for the second offense. 



Capital Punishment 13 

There had been other slight modifications of punishments for capital 
crimes in the early days. By the act of 1754 malicious maiming pun- 
ishable by death included cutting off or disabling the tongue, putting 
out an eye, slitting or biting or cutting off nose or lip, "biting or cut- 
ting off or disabling any limb or member of any subject of his majesty". 
(Potter's Revisal, Ch. 56, p. 194.) The General Assembly of 1791 made 
the first offense punishable by the pillory, public whipping, etc., and lim- 
ited the offense to cutting out or disabling the tongue or putting out 
an eye. By the same act, maiming of nose, lips, or limbs was punish- 
able by imprisonment for six months and fine at the discretion of the 
court. 

The penalty for counterfeiting, which originally had been death with- 
out benefit of clergy, also was modified, the Legislature of 1779 setting 
confinement in the pillory, branding, amputating the ears, whipping and 
imprisonment as the punishment for the first offense, but retaining the 
penalty of death without benefit for the second. (Potter's Revisal, Ch. 
158, p. 399.) The death penalty for counterfeiting was abolished in 
1811, the penalty for the first offense being public whipping, and for 
the second, whipping, imprisonment and branding with the letter C. 

Between 18 27 and 18 54 there was further modification. In the Revised 
Code of North Carolina of 18 54 we find that the death penalty for house- 
breaking in daylight when goods amounting to $2.00 had been stolen 
was no longer inflicted, but applied only to breaking into a dwelling 
at night with intent to commit a felony. Bigamy was no longer pun- 
ished by death, but by fine, imprisonment and branding. The death pen- 
alty was not inflicted upon servants who had embezzled their master's 
goods to the value of $10.00, but those embezzling goods valued as high 
as $5.00 were publicly whipped and imprisoned at the discretion of the 
court. Forgery was punished by confinement in the pillory, whipping, 
fine and imprisonment of not less than six months nor more than three 
years, at the discretion of the court. Burning of bridges or town build- 
ings which did not contain archives was changed from a capital felony 
to a misdemeanor. Horse-stealing was no longer a capital crime. Ben- 
efit of clergy had been abolished, with the stipulation that none should 
suffer death except for offenses which previously had been excluded from 
this benefit. 

When we recall that about 20 crimes were punished by death in 
Colonial North Carolina and about 14 as late as 1854, we realize what 
a marked advance in the humane treatment of felons is represented by 
the provision of State Constitution of 18 68 which limits the infliction 
of the death penalty to persons convicted of four crimes, murder, rape, 
arson and burglary in the first degree. The gradual evolution of cap- 
ital punishment in North Carolina, as elsewhere, has been in the direc- 
tion of restriction of the death penalty. In continuation of this trend, 
it is possible that in time this form of punishment may be abolished in 
this State without arousing adverse public opinion. 

Provision for Private Executions 

By the law of 18 68 and subsequent amendments provision was made 
for private executions, as follows: 

"As the ends of justice, public morals and the preservation of order, 
demand that the execution of all capital offenders should be made pri- 
vate and invested with the solemnity appropriate to the final act of 
penal law, any sheriff on whom shall devolve the execution of a sen- 
tence of death on a public offender, shall be required to provide for 
the execution of such criminal within the jail-yard enclosure, and as 



14 Capital Punishment 

much removed from public view as the means within his control will 
allow: Provided, that, for reasons which may be deemed good and 
sufficient, the board of commissioners may otherwise order. 

"The sheriff, after having provided for the private execution of the 
criminal, may admit by ticket, in addition to the required guard, two 
physicians and necessary assistants, not more than 36 nor less than 18 
respectable citizens, to witness for the State, the due observance of the 
law. 

"In all cases of affirmance of a sentence for a capital felony the clerk 
of the Superior Court, at the same time that the decision of the Supreme 
Court is certified down to the Superior Court, shall send a duplicate 
thereof to the Governor, who shall immediately issue his warrant under 
the great seal of the State to the sheriff of the county in which the 
appellant was sentenced, directing him to execute the death penalty 
on a day specified in date of said warrant, not less than 30 days from 
the date of said warrant but this shall not deprive the Governor of 
the power to pardon or reprieve the defendant or to commute the sen- 
tence." (Laws of N. C, 1868, Chs. 21, 22, 1, 2, 3; Battle's Revisal, 
1873, Ch. 32, ss. 156, 157; Laws of N. C, 1879, Ch. 221, s. 1; The 
Code of N. C, 1883, Vol. I, Ch. 26, ss. 1243, 1244; Laws of North Caro- 
lina 1887, Ch. 192, s.c; Revisal of N. C, 1905, Vol. I, ss. 3284, 3285, 
3286.) 

Despite this provision for privacy, executions by hanging continued 
public in North Carolina until 18 79. 

The Last Hanging 

The following quotation from The Raleigh 'Neics and Ohserver of March 
12, 1910, describes the last hanging which took place in North Carolina, 
and the circumstances leading up to it: 

"The last legal hanging in the old North State took place at Elizabeth- 
town at high noon today when Henry Spivey, colored, paid the death 
penalty for the murder of his father-in-law, Frank Shaw, near Abbotts- 
burg, this county, in the fall of 190 8. 

"Spivey was tried and convicted at the March term of court 1909, 
and sentenced to be hanged on May 11th, following. He had been re- 
spited by the Governor twice and had high hopes of further respite, if 
not reprieve to life imprisonment. At his trial he had the service of 
nine attorneys and they have worked diligently to save his neck. 

"Judge Adams who tried the case refused to sign a petition for life 
imprisonment, so did Solicitor Sinclair, and only two of the trial jury 
would sign for reprieve. 

"Sheriff Clark has had his prisoner guarded closely day and night 
knowing the character of his man. He had tried to escape from the 
jail here after his conviction and was taken to the State Penitentiary 
for safe-keeping and gave the officers of that institution lots of trouble. 

"The gallows today was enclosed by a high board fence and an in- 
closure about it was roped off. Spivey seemed brave and walked to 
the gallows, but just as the black cap was being adjusted he began to 
sink and with quick presence of mind Sheriff Clark pulled the lever. 
It was ten minutes before the attending physician pronounced the doomed 
man dead. 

"Although Spivey had considerable property at the time of his arrest 
and had handled thousands of dollars as a gambler, at which business 
he was an expert, his body was buried by the county authorities, at the 
county poor farm, his wife refusing to have anything to do with it. 

"The crowd dispersed in an orderly manner. No trouble was man- 
ifested or expected, though armed guards were in attendanse". 



Capital Punishment 15 

The First Electrocution 

In 1909 the method of inflicting the death penalty was changed in 
North Carolina, and the General Assembly of that year substituted death 
by electrocution at the State Prison at Raleigh in place of hanging. 
The first to suffer the death penalty by electrocution in this State was 
Walter Morrison, a 37-year old Negro of Robeson County, who had been 
convicted of rape on Polly Rodgers, a Croatan woman. He was executed 
on March 18, 1910. 

Morrison was one of the State's most dangerous criminals and his 
death sentence followed a long series of crimes. As reported in The Raleigh 
Neios and Ohserver of March 19, 1910, the chief events of his criminal 
career were as follows: 

At the April, 18 98, term of Robeson County court he entered a nolo 
contendere on a charge of assault, and judgment was suspended on the 
payment of costs. 

At the October term, 18 98, he was found guilty of an assault with intent 
to commit rape and was sentenced to five years in the State prison. 

At the November term, 1903, he plead guilty of housebreaking and 
judgment was suspended on payment of the costs. 

At the July term, 190 5, he plead guilty of larceny and was sentenced 
to twelve months on the roads. While waiting to be carried to the chain 
gang, he broke jail. 

At the November term, 1905, a true bill for larceny was returned 
against him and a capias issued, but he could not be found. 

At the same term, a true bill for escape was returned against him. Later 
he was captured and put on the chain-gang to serve out his original term. 
After serving three days, he escaped, but was later recaptured. 

It was on the day of his discharge. May 27, 1909, that Morrison com- 
mitted rape on Polly Rodgers, the crime for which he was electrocuted. 
On his way home from the chain-gang he enticed this woman, who had 
her baby in her arms, into the woods, by telling her that a man re- 
sembling her husband lay dying there. 

Tried in July, 190 9, he was sentenced to be electrocuted on September 
10, 1909, but was reprieved four times because of delay in installing 
the new electric chair at the State Prison. The later dates set for his 
electrocution were October 15, 1909, November 12, 1909, January 14, 
1910, and March 18, 1910. On March 3, 1910, an application for com- 
mutation of his sentence was made, but was refused a week later. 

Since the electrocution of Morrison, 94 persons have met death in the 
electric chair in North Carolina, 81 Negroes and 13 whites. 

Limitation of Witnesses 

Despite the legal limitation of witnesses allowed at an electrocution 
to "twelve respectable citizens in addition to the warden or deputy 
warden, prison physician, counsel and relatives of the prisoner, and a 
minister of the gospel" (C. S. 4660, 1919), at the electrocution of Mclver 
Burnett in 1924 a crowd of 8 2 persons, ten of them women, jammed 
themselves into the death chamber at the State Prison. One of the 
women present was the woman upon whom the coiidemned man had 
committed rape. These circumstances led the General Assembly of 1925 
to enact the following statute further limiting the number of witnesses 
allowed to attend an electrocution: 

"Some guard or guards or other reliable person or persons to be named 
and designated by the warden from time to time shall cause the person, 
convict or felon against whom the death sentence has been pronounced 
to be electrocuted as provided by this article and all amendments thereto. 



16 Capital Punishment 

The electrocution shall be under the general supervision and control of 
the warden of the penitentiary, who shall from time to time, in writing, 
name and designate the guard or guards or other reliable person or 
persons, who shall cause the person, convict or felon against whom the 
death sentence has been pronounced to be electrocuted as provided by 
this article and all amendments thereto. At such execution there shall 
be present the warden or deputy warden or some person designated by 
the warden in his stead; the surgeon or physician of the penitentiary 
and six respectable citizens, the counsel and any relative of such per- 
son, convict or felon and a minister or ministers of the gospel may be 
present if they so desire, and the board of directors of the penitentiary 
may provide for and pay the fee for each execution not to exceed thirty- 
five dollars." (Laws of N. C. 1925 c. 123, amending s. 4660 of the Con- 
solidated Statutes.) 

Statutes on Capital Crimes 

There follow the provision of the Constitution of North Carolina de- 
claring which crimes shall be punishable by death, together with the 
statutes defining these four capital felonies, murder, rape, burglary and 
arson, and the statutes legalizing death by electrocution as the punish- 
ment therefor, and describing the manner and place of execution. 

Constitution of N. C. Art. XI, Sec. 2. The object of punishment being 
not only to satisfy justice, but also to reform the offender 
and thus prevent crime, murder, arson, burglary and rape 
and these only may be punishable with death, if the General 
Assembly shall so enact. 

C.S. 4200. Murder in the first and second degree defined: Punishment. 

A murder which shall be perpetrated by means of poison, 
lying in wait, imprisonment, starving, torture, or by any 
other kind of willful, deliberate and premeditated killing, or 
which shall be committed in the perpetration or attempt to 
perpetrate any arson, rape, robbery, burglary or other felony, 
shall be deemed to be murder in the first degree and shall 
be punished with death. All other kinds of murder shall be 
deemed murder in the second degree, and shall be punished 
with imprisonment of not less than two nor more than thirty 
years in the State Prison. 
Rev., s. 3631; 1893, c. 85; 1893, c. 281. 

C.S. 4204. Punishment for rape. Every person who is convicted of 
ravishing and carnally knowing any female of the age of 
twelve years or more by force and against her will, or who 
is convicted of unlawfully and carnally knowing and abus- 
ing any female child under the age of twelve years, shall 

Rev., s. 3637; Code, s. 1101; R. C, c. 34, s. 5; 18 Eliz., C. 
7; 1868-9, C. 167, s. 2; 1917, c. 29. 

C.S. 4232. First and second degi'ee burglary. There shall be two de- 
grees in the crime of burglary as defined at the common law. 
If the crime be committed in a dwelling-house, or in a room 
used as a sleeping apartment in any building, and any part 
of said dwelling-house or sleeping apartment at the time of 
the commission of such crime, it shall be burglary in the 
first degree. If such crime be committed in a dwelling-house 
or sleeping apartment not actually occupied by any one at 
the time of the commission of the crime, or if it be committed 
in any house within the curtilage of a dwelling-house or in 
any building not a dwelling-house, but in which is a room 
used as a sleeping apartment and not actually occupied as 



Capital Punishment 17 

such at the time of the commission of the crime, it shall 
be burglary in the second degree. 
Rev., s. 3331; 1889, c. 434, s. 1. 

C.S. 4238. Punishment for arson. Any person convicted according to 
due course of law of the crime of arson shall suffer death. 
Rev., s. 3335; Code, s, 985, R. C, c. 34, s. 25, 1870-1, c. 222. 

C.S. 4657. Death by electrocution. Death by hanging under sentence of 
law in North Carolina is hereby abolished and electrocution 
or death by electricity substituted therefor. 
1909, c. 443, s. 1. 

C.S. 4658. Manner and place of execution. The mode of executing a 
death sentence must in every case be by causing to pass 
through the body of the convict or felon a current of elec- 
tricity of sufficient intensity to cause death, and the appli- 
cation of such current must be continued until such convict 
or felon is dead; and the warden of the penitentiary of North 
Carolina or, in case of his death, inability or absence, a deputy 
warden shall be the executioner; and when any person, con- 
vict or felon shall be sentenced by any court of the State 
having competent jurisdiction to be so executed, such punish- 
ment shall only be inflicted within a permanent death chamber 
which the superintendent of the State penitentiary is hereby 
authorized and directed to provide within the walls of the 
North Carolina penitentiary at Raleigh, North Carolina. The 
superintendent of the State penitentiary shall also cause to 
be provided, in conformity with this article and approved by 
the governor and council of state, the necessary appliances 
for the infliction of the punishment of death in accordance 
with the requirements of this article. 
1909, c. 443, s. 2. 



CHAPTER II 



STATISTICS ON CAPITAL CONVICTIONS 



Of the 200 persons, 199 men and one woman, who were committed 
to the State Prison at Raleigh for capital crimes from the time the 
electric chair was instituted in 1909 through the commitment of Clarence 
Thomas January 21, 1928, there were 149 Negroes and 51 whites. That 
is, the Negroes represent 74.5 per cent of the commitments during this 
period; and the whites represent 25.5 per cent. 

Since March 18, 1910, when the first electrocution took place, 94 of 
these 200 persons, or 47 per cent, have met death in the electric chair. 
Of these 94 persons electrocuted, 81 persons, or 86 per cent, were 
Negroes; and 13 persons, or 14 per cent, were whites. 

The 94 electrocutions are distributed thus: 71, or 75.53 per cent, 
for first degree murder; 21, or 22.34 per cent for rape; and 2, or 2.13 
per cent, for first degree burglary. Of the 71 electrocutions for first 
degree murder, 59, or 83 per cent, were of Negroes; and 12, or 17 per 
cent, were of whites. Of the 21 electrocutions for rape, 20, or 95.2 
per cent, were of Negroes; and one, or 4.8 per cent, was of a white man. 
Both electrocutions for first degree burglary were of Negroes. 

On a basis of the total number of convictions for capital crimes during 
the period, percentages represented by these 94 electrocutions are: 
Negroes, 40.5 per cent; whites, 6.5 per cent; both races, 47 per cent. 
The Negro electrocutions represent 54.4 per cent of the Negro convic- 
tions; and the white electrocutions represent 25.5 per cent of the white 
convictions. 

The annual number of electrocutions follows: None in 1909, one in 
1910, nine in 1911, two in 1912, none in 1913, six in 1914, two in 1915, 
nine in 1916, four in 1917, seven in 1918, four in 1919, six in 1920, 
seven in 1921, four in 1922, seven in 1923, one in 1924, 12 in 1925, four 
in 1926, five in 1927. Four of the electrocutions included in this study 
took place in 1928, making the total of 94, but these four are not the 
complete record for that year. 

A table follows which gives annual number of admissions to the State 
Prison of persons convicted of capital crimes, showing distribution by 
race, by crime for which convicted, and by disposition of case. It should 
be noted that although these prisoners were sentenced to be electrocuted 
in the year designated by this table, some of them were not actually put 
to death until later, which explains the apparent discrepancy between the 
electrocution figures in this table and the ones given in the preceding 
paragraph. 

The following table shows that the largest number of admissions to 
the State Prison for capital crime in any one year since 1909 is 17, in 
1914, 1922, and 1924. The second largest number is 16, in 1919, and 
the third largest number is 15, in 1916. In only two years, 1916 and 
1919, has the number of white admissions exceeded that of the Negroes. 



Capital Punishment 



19 



TABLE AA- 



-ANNUAL ADMISSIONS TO THE STATE PRISON OF PER 
SONS CONVICTED OF CAPITAL CRIMES 



Year 


Total Number 

of Admissions 

for Capital 

Crimes 


Race of 

Convicted 

Person 


Capital Crimes for 
Whicli Convicted 


Disposition of Case 




Negroes 


^A'hites 


Murder 


Rape 


Burglary 


Electro- 
cuted 


Com- 
muted 


New 
Trial 


1909 


2 


2 





1 


1 





1 


1 





1910 


5 


4 


1 


5 








3 


2 









1911 


12 


10 


2 


11 


1 





8 


4 









1912 


4 


4 





4 











4 









1913 


4 


2 


2 


3 


1 





1 


3 









1914 


17 


14 


3 


13 


3 


1 


5 


12 





1915 


9 


8 


1 


6 


3 





6 


3 









1916 


15 


7 


8 


12 


2 


1 


5 


10 









1917 


13 


10 


3 


S 


2 


3 


7 


6 









1918 


8 


6 


2 


5 


2 


1 


4 


4 









1919 


16 


7 


9 


13 


3 





7 


8 


1 






1920 .. .. 


11 


6 


5 


8 


3 





6 


5 









1921 


8 


5 


3 


7 


1 





4 


3 


1 






1922 


17 


12 


5 


9 


6 


2 


5 


12 









1923 


10 


9 


1 


7 


3 


0. 


7 


3 









1924 


17 


14 


3 


15 


2 





9 


8 









1925 


13 


12 


1 


9 


4 





6 


6 


1 






1926 


10 


8 


2 


9 


1 





4 


4 


2 






1927 


7 


7 





5 


1 


1 


4 


2 


1 






♦1928 


2 


2 





2 








2 












Total 


200 


149 


51 


152 


39 


9 


94 


100 


6 



*Incomplete. 

Disposition of Cases 

In addition to the 94 persons electrocuted, 100 persons, 66 Negroes, 
33 white men and one white woman, have had their sentences com- 
muted to life imprisonment or to shorter terms, usually 221/4 years to 
30 years in the State Prison. That is, 6 6 per cent of the commutations 
have been granted to Negroes and 34 per cent to whites. 

On a basis of the total number of convictions, percentages represented 
by these commutations are: Negroes 33 per cent; whites 17 per cent; 
both races 50 per cent. The Negro commutations represent 4 4.3 per 
cent of the Negro convictions; and the white commutations represent 
66.7 per cent of the white convictions. 

Two Negroes and four whites were granted new trials on appeal to 
tne Supreme Court, and at the second trial all were found guilty of a 
lesser offense. For these lesser offenses one white man was sentenced 
to the county chain-gang and four Negroes and one white man each re- 
ceived a sentence from 20 to 30 years in the State Prison. 

On a basis of the total number of convictions, percentages represented 
by these second trials are: Negroes one per cent; whites two per cent; 
both races three per cent. The Negro second trials represent 1.3 per 
cent of the Negro convictions and the white second trials represent 7.8 
per cent of the white convictions. 



20 



Capital Punishment 



Eleven Negroes and seven whites have escaped after their sentences 
have been commuted, and none of this number have been recaptured. 
The average length of time served by each of these prisoners from the 
date of commutation to the date of escape was three years and nine 
months. On a basis of the total number "f con\ictions, percentages rep- 
resented by these escapes are: Negroes, 5.5 per cent; whites, 3.5 per 
cent; both races, nine per cent. The Negro escapes represent 7.3 per 
cent of the Negro convictions; and the white escapes represent 13.7 per 
cent of the white convictions. 

Six Negroes and two whites have died in prison of natural causes. On 
a basis of the total number of convictions, percentages represented by 
these deaths are: Negroes, three per cent; whites, one per cent; both 
races, four per cent. The Negro deaths represent four per cent of the 
Negro convictions; and the white deaths represent 3.9 per cent of the 
white convictions. 

Six Negroes and six whites have been pardoned. On a basis of the 
total number of convictions, percentages represented by these pardons 
are: Negroes, three per cent; whites, three per cent; both races, six 
per cent. The Negro pardons represent four per cent of the Negro con- 
victions; and the white pardons represent 11.7 per cent of the white con- 
victions. 

Five Negroes and two whites have been transferred to the criminal 
departments of the hospitals for the insane at Goldsboro and Raleigh. 
On a basis of the total number of convictions, percentages represented 
by these transfers are: Negroes, 2.5 per cent; whites, one per cent; both 
races, 3.5 per cent. The Negro transfers represent 3.3 per cent of the 
Negro convictions; and the white transfers represent 3.9 per cent of the 
white convictions. 

One Negro and three whites have been discharged through special com- 
mutation of their sentences. On a basis of the total number of convic- 
tions, percentages represented by these discharges are: Negroes, five- 
tenths of one per cent; whites, 1.5 per cent; both races, two per cent. 
The Negro discharge represents six-tenths of one per cent of the Negro 
convictions; and the white discharges represent 5.8 per cent of the white 
convictions. 



TABLE A — DISTRIBUTION ACCORDING TO DISPOSITION OP CASE 





NEGROES 


WHITES 


Total 
Per Cent 


Disposition 


Number 

of 
Prisoners 


Per Cent of 

Negro 
Convictions 


Per Cent of 

Total 
Convictions 


Number 
of 

Prisoners 


Per Cent of 

White 
Convictions 


Per Cent of 

Total 
Convictions 


(Negro and 
White) 
of All 

Convictions 


Electrocuted 


81 


54.4 


40.5 


13 


25.5 


6.5 


47 




66 


44.3 


33 


34 


66.7 


17 


50 






Granted New Trial- 


2 


1.3 


1 


4 


7.8 


2 


3 


Escaped After 


11 


7.3 


5.5 


T 


13.7 


3.5 


9 








6 


4 


3 


2 


3.9 


1 


4 






Pardoned 


6 


4 


3 


6 


11.7 


3 


6 






Transf d to Hos- 
pitals for Insane 


5 


3.3 


2.5 


■ 2 


3.9 


1 


3.5 


Discharged 


1 


.6 1 .5 


3 


5.8 


1.5 


2 



NOTE :■ — Several of the divisions in this table overlap. 



Capital Punishment 21 

Types of Capital Crime 

In the 200 convictions for capital crime, murder in the first degree 
leads with 152 cases. There were 3 9 cases of rape and nine cases of 
first degree burglary. No cases of arson are recorded. 

Of the 152 cases of first decree murder, 106, or 69.7 per cent were 
committed by Negroes, and 46, or 30.3 per cent by whites. On a basis 
of the total number of convictions, percentages represented by these 
murders are: Negroes, 53 per cent; whites, 23 per cent; both races, 
76 per cent. The murders by Negroes represent 71 per cent of the 
Negro convictions, and the murders by whites represent 45 per cent of 
the white convictions. 

Seventy-one of the 152 persons sentenced to death for first degree 
murder have been electrocuted, or 40 per cent. The racial distribution 
of these electrocutions is given earlier in this chapter. 

The largest number of admissions to the State Prison for the crime 
of first degree murder in any one year was 15 in 1925. Of these 12 
were of Negroes and three of whites. The second largest number was 
13, in 1914 and 1919. The racial distribution in 1914 was 11 Negroes 
and two whites, and in 1919 it was six Negroes and seven whites. The 
third largest number was 12 in 1916, four Negroes and eight whites. 
(See Table AA.) 

The 152 sentences for first degree murder represent 38 per cent of 
the 395 indictments for this crime which were brought in North Caro- 
lina during the period covered by this study. These 3 95 indictments for 
first degree murder in turn, represent 9.8 per cent of the 4,043 indict- 
ments for the three types of homicide which were brought during this 
period. Among these 4,043 indictments, those for second degree murder 
lead, 2,655 in number, or 65.7 per cent of the total. There were 993 
indictments for manslaughter, or 24.5 per cent of the total number. 

Of the 39 cases of rape, 35, or 89.7 per cent, were committed by 
Negroes; and four, or 10.3 per cent, were committed by whites. On a 
basis of the total number of convictions,' percentages represented by 
these cases of rape are: Negroes 17.5 per cent; whites, two per cent; 
both races, 19.5 per cent. The Negro cases of rape represent 23.5 per 
cent of the Negro convictions, and the white cases of rape represent 3.9 
per cent of the white convictions. 

Twenty-one of the 3 9 persons sentenced to death for rape have been 
electrocuted, or 53.8 per cent. For racial distribution of these electro- 
cutions, see above. 

The largest number of admissions to the State Prison for the crime 
of rape was six in 1922, five Negroes and one white; and the second 
largest was four in 1925, all Negroes. (See Table AA.) 

Since 1909 no white man has been convicted of rape of a Negro woman, 
and in only one of the four capital cases of rape by white men on white 
women has the convicted prisoner been electrocuted. The other three 
men were granted new trials and were resentenced, respectively, to six 
months, 20 years, and from 23 1/^ to 30 years imprisonment. 

No Negro has been electrocuted for committing rape on a Negro woman, 
and in 15 of the 35 cases in which Negroes have been convicted of rape, 
or in 42.8 per cent of the cases, the Governor has granted executive 
clemency. Eleven had their sentences commuted from death to from 
20 to 30 years imprisonment; one from 17 ^/^ to 30 years imprisonment; 
two were committed to the criminal department of the State Hospital 
for Negro Insane at Goldsboro; and one was discharged after serving 
a commuted sentence of 15 years. 



22 



Capital Punishment 




GRAPH I 

Distribution of Sentences, Commutations and Electrocutions op 
Persons Convicted of Capital Crimes 



Capital Punishment 



23 




PR ( t)t:^i^ 



]':Vi. 



■^."M 



33j^ 



\i 



iilid 



\m 



53J 



mi 



^u^ 



E^^li2[ 



mil 



WliWll 



q^f 



i^HT'iljei^ 



-2EC 



ilE^ 



V9Z'- 



];aj 



PF3 



qin 



sinr 



m 



:BS5 



GRAPH II 
Distribution of Capital Crimes 



24 



Capital Punishment 




w 



Capital Punishment 



25 



Of the nine cases of first degree burglary, eight, or 88.8 per cent, were 
committed' by Negroes; and one, or 11.2 per cent, was committed by a 
white man. On a basis of the total number of convictions for capital 
crimes, percentages represented by these cases of burglary are: Negroes, 
four per cent; whites, five-tenths of one per cent; both races, 4.5 per 
cent. The Negro cases of burglary represent 5.4 per cent of the Negro 
convictions and the white case represents 1.9 per cent of the white 
convictions. 

The largest number of admissions to the State Prison for burglary 
was three in 1917, all Negroes. (See Table AA.) 

TABLE B — DISTRIBUTION ACCORDING TO CRIME COMMITTED 





NEGROES 


WHITES 


Total 
Per Cent 


Crime 


Number 

of Cases 


Per Cent of 

Negro 
Convictions 


Per Cent of 

Total 
Convictions 


Number 
of Cases 


Per Cent of 

White 
Convictions 


Per Cent of 

Total 
Convictions 


(Negro and 
White) 
of AH 

Convictions 


Murder . .. 


106 


71.1 


53 


46 


90.1 


23 


76 






Kape 


35 


23.5 


17.5 


4 


8 


2 


19.5 






Burglary .' 


8 


5.4 


4 


1 


1.9 


.5 


4.5 



Educational Status of Prisoners 

The educational status of the 149 Negroes and the 51 whites sentenced 
to death in the electric chair was found to be as follows: 120 Negroes 
and 22 whites are wholly illiterate. That is, of the total number con- 
victed for capital crimes, 71 per cent are illiterate, of whom 60 per cent 
are Negroes, and 11 per cent are whites. The illiterate Negroes represent 
80.5 per cent of the Negroes convicted; and the illiterate whites represent 
43 per cent of the whites convicted. 

One hundred and twenty-six Negroes had never attended school, rep- 
resenting 84 per cent of the Negroes convicted and 63 per cent of the 
total convictions. The number of whites who had never attended school 
was not determined. 

Twenty-eight Negroes and 30 whites are able to read and write. 
That is, of the total number convicted, 29 per cent can read and write, 
of whom 14 per cent are Negroes and 15 per cent are whites. The 
Negroes who can read and write represent 18 per cent of the Negroes 
convicted; and the whites who can read and write represent 5 8.8 per 
cent of the whites convicted. 

No Negroes had completed high school, and only one white had done 
so, representing five-tenths of one per cent of the total number con- 
victed and 1.9 per cent of the whites convicted. 

One Negro and five whites had completed the sixth grade, the Negro 
finishing at the age of 18 years. That is, three per cent of all 
the men convicted had finished the sixth grade, and of this percentage 
the Negro represents five-tenths of one per cent and the whites 2.5 per 
cent. This Negro who finished the sixth grade represents six-tenths of 
one per cent of the Negroes convicted; and the whites who finished the 
sixth grade represent 9.8 per cent of the whites convicted. 

Two Negroes had completed the fifth grade, one at the age of 13 
and the other at the age of 15, rdpresenting one per cent of the 
total convictions and 1.3 per cent of the Negro convictions. One Negro 
had completed the fourth grade, representing five-tenths of one per cent 
of the total convictions and six-tenths of one per cent of the Negro con- 
victions. None of the other Negroes who could read and write had gone 
as far in school as this. 



26 



Capital Punishment 



TABLE 


C — DISTRIBUTION ACCORDING TO EDUCATION 




NEGROES 


WHITES 


Total 
Per Cent 


Status 


Number 

of 
Prisoners 


Per Cent of 

Negro 
Convictions 


Per Cent of 

Total 
Convictions 


Number 

of 
Prisoners 


Per Cent of 

White 
Convictions 


Per Cent of 

Total 
Convictions 


(Negro and 
White) 
of All 

Convictions 


Totally 
Illiterate 


120 


80 5 


60 


22 


43 


11 


71 






Never Attended 


126 


8i 


63 


* 












Able to Read 


28 


18 


14 


30 


58.8 


15 


29 






Completed 
High School 








1 


1.9 


.5 








Completed 

Sixth Grade 


1 


.6 


.-, 


5 


9.8 


2.5 


3 






Completed 

rifth Grade 


2 


1 3 


1 














Completed 

Fourth Grade 


1 


6 


.5 











* Undetermined. 



Age of Prisoners 

The average age of the 200 prisoners sentenced to death during the 
period studied is 30.38 years. For the whites the average age is 35.98 
years and for the Negroes, 28.41 years. 

Eighteen Negroes and two whites are in their teens, that is, ten per 
cent of the total number convicted. Of this percentage, nine per cent 
are Negroes and one per cent wliite. The Negroes in their teens rep- 
resent 12 per cent of the Negroes convicted; and the whites in their 
teens represent 3.9 per cent of the whites convicted. 

Seventy Negroes and 17 whites are between 20 and 30 years old, that 
is, 43.5 per cent of the total number convicted. Of this percentage, 35 
per cent are Negroes and 8.5 per cent are whites. The Negroes of this 
age represent 47 per cent of the Negroes convicted; and the whites of 
this age represent 33 per cent of the whites convicted. 

Fifty Negroes and 14 whites are between 30 and 40 years old, that 
is, 3 2 per cent of the total number convicted. Of this percentage, 25 
per cent are Negroes and 7 per cent are whites. The Negroes of this age 
represent 33.5 per cent of the Negroes convicted; and the whites of this age 
represent 2 7 per cent of the whites convicted. 

Five Negroes and nine whites are between 40 and 50 years' old, that 
is, seven per cent of the total number convicted. Of this percentage, 
2.5 per cent are Negroes and 4.5 per cent are whites. The Negroes of 
this age represent 3.3 per cent of the Negroes convicted and the whites 
of this age represent 17.7 per cent of the whites convicted. 

Four Negroes and six whites are between 50 and 60 years old, that 
is, five per cent of the total number convicted. Of this percentage, two 
per cent are Negroes and three per cent are whites. The Negroes of 
this age represent 2.7 per cent of the Negroes convicted and the whites 
of this age represent 11.7 per cent of the whites convicted. 

One Negro and three whites are between 60 and 70 years old, that is, 
two per cent of the total number convicted. Of this percentage, the 
Negro represents five-tenths of one per cent; and the whites 1.5 per 
cent. The Negro of this age represents six-tenths of one per cent of 
the Negroes convicted; and the whites of this age represent 5.9 per cent 
of the whites convicted. 



Capital Punishment 



27 



One white is between 70 and 80 years old, representing five-tenths 
of one per cent of the total number convicted and 1.9 per cent of the 
whites convicted. There are no Negroes of this age. 



TABLE D — DISTRIBUTION ACCORDING TO AGE 





NEGROES 


WHITES 


Total 
Per Cent 


Age 


Number 

of 
Prisoners 


Per Cent of 

Negro 
Convictions 


Per Cent of 

Total 
Convictions 


Number 

of 
Prisoners 


Per Cent of 

Wliite 
Convictions 


Per Cent of 

Total 
Convictions 


(Negro and 
White) 
of All 

Convictions 




18 


12 


9 


2 


3.9 


1 


10 






20-30 Years 


70 


47 


35 


17 


33 


8.5 


43.5 






30-40 Years .... 


50 


33.5 


25 


14 


27 


7 


32 






40-50 Y'ears 


5 


3.3 


2.5 


9 


17 7 


4.5 


7 






50-60 Years 


4 


2.7 


2 


6 


11.7 


3 


5 






60-70 Years 


1 


.6 


.5 


3 


5.9 


1.5 


2 






70-80 Years 








1 


1.9 


.5 


.5 



Marital Status of Prisoners 

The marital status of the prisoners is as follows: 91 Negroes and 26 
whites are married, representing 58.5 per cent of the total number con- 
victed. Of this percentage, 45.5 per cent are Negroes and 13 per cent 
are whites. The married Negroes represent 61 per cent of the Negroes 
convicted; and the married whites represent 50.9 per cent of the whites 
convicted. 

Of the married Negroes, 25 were living apart from their wives at the 
time of their conviction, representing 12.5 per cent of the total number 
convicted and 17 per cent of the Negroes convicted. The number of 
whites who were living apart from their wives could not be determined. 

Five Negroes and eight whites are widowers, representing 6.5 per 
cent of the total number convicted. Of this percentage, 2.5 per cent 
are Negroes and four per cent are whites. The Negro widowers repre- 
sent 3.3 per cent of the Negroes convicted; and the white widowers rep- 
resent 15.7 per cent of the whites convicted. 

Sixty-two Negroes and 18 whites are unmarried, representing 40 per 
cent of the total number convicted. Of this percentage, 31 per cent 
are Negroes and 9 per cent are whites. The unmarried Negroes rep- 
resent 41.6 per cent of the Negroes convicted; and the unmarried whites 
represent 3 5.3 per cent of the whites convicted. 



TABLE E— DISTRIBUTION ACCORDING TO MARITAL STATUS 





NEGROES 


WHITES 


Total 
Per Cent 


Status 


Number 

of 
Prisoners 


Per Cent of 

Negro 
Convictions 


Per Cent of 

Total 
Convictions 


Number 

of 
Prisoners 


Per Cent of 

Wiiite 
Convictions 


Per Cent of 

Total 
Convictions 


(Negro and 

White) 

of All 

Convictions 


Married- . 


91 


61 


45.5 


26 


50.9 


13 ' 


58.5 




Living Apart 
from Wife 


25 


17 


12.5 


* 












Widowers 


5 


3.3 


2.5 


8 


15.7 


4 


6.5 




Unmarried 


62 


41.6 


31 


18 


35.3 


9 


40 



♦Undetermined. 



28 Capital Punishment 

Former Occupations of Prisoners 

Former occupations of the prisoners are as follows: 8 3 Negroes and 
33 whites were farmers, that is, 58 per cent of the total number con- 
victed. Of this percentage, 41.5 per cent are Negroes and 16.5 per 
cent are whites. The Negro farmers represent 55.7 per cent of the 
Negroes convicted; and the white farmers represent 64.7 per cent of 
the whites convicted. 

Sixty Negroes and 14 whites were common laborers, representing 37 
per cent of the total number convicted. Of this percentage, 30 per cent 
are Negroes and seven per cent are whites. The Negro laborers repre- 
sent 40.2 per cent of the Negroes con- cted; and the white laborers 
represent 27.4 per cent of the whites convicted. 

Four Negroes were railroad firemen, representing two per cent of the 
total number convicted and 2.7 per cent of the Negroes convicted. 

One Negro was a minister of the Gospel. One white was a railroad 
engineer; one, a metal worker; one, a machinist; one, a merchant; and 
one, a mill worker. 



CHAPTER III 



PRISON POPUIiATIOiV 



To illustrate the trends in criminal convictions in North Carolina since 
the electric chair has been in use in the State there follows a table show- 
ing the number of prisoners received in the State prison at Raleigh, 
together with the number of admissions of offenders guilty of capital 
crimes during the 19-year per'od covered by this study. This tabu- 
lation is for each biennium from July, 1908, through June 30, 1926, 
and in addition the one-year period from July 1, 1926, through June 
30, 1927. 

It will be noted from the following table that during the 19-year 
period covered, 2,976 Negroes and 2,685 whites, a total of 5,661 
prisoners, were received at the State Prison at Raleigh. Of these there 
were 291 more Negroes than whites. Most of this difference is found 
in the excess in the number of Negro women prisoners over that of white 
women prisoners. There were 268 Negro women received and 61 white 
women, that is, 207 more Negro women than white women. The dif- 
ference in the number of Negro men and the number of white men is 
much less marked, as the number of Negro men exceed that of the white 
men by only 84, with 2,708 Negro men received as against 2,624 white 
men. From 1920 through 1927 the number of white men received has 
exceeded the number of Negro men in each biennium. 

Analysis of the figures shows further that the number of Negro men 
received at the State prison increased during the second biennium, but 
decreased in the three following bieftnial periods to a number almost 
equal to that at the beginning of the tabulation in 1908-10. Part of 
this decrease came during the pre-war period, 1912-14 and 1914-16, and 
part during the war period 1916-18. Just after the war, in 1918-20, 
there was another increase in the number of Negro men, followed In 
1920-22 by another decrease. After this there was a sharp rise in 1922-24, 
and in 1924-26 came the peak in the admissions of Negro men. In the 
one year period, 1926-27, the number of Negro men received was con- 
siderably less than half the number in the preceding two-year period. 

In each biennium from 1908 through 1926 there has been a steady 
increase in the number of white men received, and the figures for the 
one-year period, 1926-27, suggest a continuation of the increase in the 
biennium 1926-28. In 1920-22 for the first time since the State began 
the use of the electric chair the number of white men received at 
the State Prison exceeded the number of Negro men. Since then, this 
excess of white men over Negro men has continued in each biennium 
and also in the year ending June 30, 1927. In 1924-26 when the largest 
number of Negro men was received there came also the peak in the 
admissions of white men. 

In the number of Negro women, there was decrease in the second 
and third bienniums, followed by a rise of one in 1914-16, after which 
there was a decrease of almost a third, followed by another rise, then 
in 1920-22, a marked decrease of approximately two-thirds. In 1922-24 
the number of Negro women rose sharply again to a point slightly above 
that four years earlier. In 1924-26 the number increased by about one- 
half and represents the largest number of admissions of Negro women 
during the entire period. This was simultaneous with the peak for both 
the white men and the Negro men. During the one-year period, 1926-27, 



30 



Capital Punishment 



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Capital Punishment 



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32 Capital Punishment 

the number of Negro women was about half of that in the preceding 
biennium. 

In each biennium fewer white women have been received at the State 
Prison than any other group. Only three were received in 1908-10. 
In the second biennium the number doubled to six, decreasing by one 
in the third, increasing by two in the fourth, then decreasing by two 
in the fifth and remaining the same in 1918-20. The number almost 
doubled in 1920-22, then cut itself about half in 1922-24, but more than 
doubled in 1924-26, the same period when the largest number of Negro 
men, Negro women and white men were received. Admissions of white 
women for the one-year period 1926-27, were slightly less than half 
the number received in 1924-26. 

Analysis of the trends in capital convictions has already been given 
apropos of Table AA. From June 30, 1927, when Table F ends, to the 
close of the period covered by this study six Negroes convicted of capital 
crime have been admitted to the State Prison, making the Negro total 
of capital convictions 149 and the total for both races 200. 

Statistics for the Year 1927 

(Note: The figures in the foregoing tabulation and analysis include 
those through June 30, 1927, whereas the following figures are for 
the whole calendar year 1927, from January 1 through December 31.) 

During the year 1927, 466 white men, 279 Negro men, 26 Negro 
women, and 7 white women were sent to the State Prison at Raleigh, 
a total of 778. The average age of the male prisoners of both races 
is 26.95 years; for the white men the average is 27.47, and for the 
Negro men 26.12. 

Eighty-nine of the 100 counties in North Carolina were represented 
among the 778 prisoners sentenced to the State Prison during that year. 
The largest number from any county was that from Buncombe which 
sent 74 persons to the prison during 1927. Wake was second with 65, 
Guilford third with 52, and Forsyth fourth with 40. Despite its large 
population and the fact that the city of Charlotte is located in it, Meck- 
lenburg County sent only 17 prisoners to the State prison in 1927. 

Among the causes of conviction of members of both races larceny in 
its various forms was the most common. Eighty-six whites were con- 
victed of larceny and 38 others for different forms of this offense. For 
the whites, manslaughter, second degree murder and forgery also were 
common causes of commitment. Thirty-two men were guilty of the last. 
Among the 77 different crimes listed for which the whites were con- 
victed, 15 were highway robbery (one case that of a woman), 3 were 
embezzlement and 23 were thefts of automobiles. There were also many 
convictions for crimes involving moral turpitude, such as prostitution, 
carnal knowledge of a female under 16 years old, assault and seduction, 
assault with intent to commit rape, crime against nature, and so on. 

Among the Negroes also larceny leads with 34 convictions and fully 
as many for the various torms of this offense, while second degree mur- 
der is next with 38 convictions, followed by 25 convictions for break- 
ing and entering and 11 for highway robbery. Convictions for manu- 
facturing , liquor and for violations of the prohibition law are notable 
for their rarity. There are not more than a dozen of these among the 
778 convictions of the members of both races. 

Of the 26 Negro women sent to the State prison during 1927 four 
were convicted of second degree murder, 3 for receiving stolen goods 
and 10 for manslaughter. 

Of the seven white women sentenced to the prison during this year 
one was convicted of each of the following offenses: highway robbery, 



Capital Punishment 



33 



stealing an automobile, receiving stolen goods, false entry in bank books, 
and three for larceny of various kinds. 

County Penal System 

The county penal system in North Carolina is divided into two parts, 
jails and prison camps. The jails are used for short periods of incar- 
ceration and, the prison camps are used as bases for road, quarry and 
farm work. These camps hold more prisoners than any other type 
of penal institution in the State, although only 44 of the 100 counties 
were using them at the time when this study was made. 

Although in the population of the State Prison at Raleigh during the 
19-year period treated in this study there have been more Negroes 
than whites, the racial comparison is even more unequal in the county 
prison camps to which is sent a larger proportion of Negroes. And the 
sentences of the Negroes usually are longer, even for similar offenses. 

On the other hand, at the time when the following table was made 
the county jails held more white men than Negro men, but fewer white 
women than Negro women. 

PRISON POPULATION IN NORTH CAROLINA 
COUNTY JAILS 





White 


Negro 


Indian 


Total 




500 
69 


451 
128 


6 


957 


Women. ... 


197 






Total 


569 


579 


6 


1154 



COUNTY PRISON CAIMPS IN FORTY-FOUR COUNTIES (ALSO TWO TOWNSHIP CAMPS 

AND ONE CITY CAMP) 


Men 


818 


1459 
3 


21 


2298 


Women 


3 






Total '. 


818 


1462 


21 


2301 





STATE PRISON AND STATE PRISON CAMPS 




Men. .. 


708 
9 


831 

44 




1539 


Women 


53 








Total 


717 


875 




1592 









Education and the Penal System 

Many of the prisoners in the North Carolina penal system are prac- 
tically or quite illiterate. Few have gone beyond the elementary or 
lower grammar grades. Very few have done any work in high school. 
A recent study of the educational status of the white and Negro pris- 
oners in The North Carolina Chain-Gang by Jesse P. Steiner and Roy 
M. Brown, of the University of North Carolina, shows the following facts. 

Twenty-nine per cent of the total number included in the study were 
totally illiterate, 16 per cent of the whites and 34 per cent of the Negroes. 
Seventy-four per cent of the whole group did not have enough educa- 
tion to read a newspaper. This group included 52 per cent of the white 
men and 83 per cent of the Negroes. Seven prisoners, all white, had 
finished high school or had knowledge of the English language equiva- 
lent to that of a high school graduate. Fifteen others, 12 whites 
and three Negroes, were placed by the tests somewhere within the high 
school grades. Four received the rating of "college graduate" by the 
word-knowledge test, and a fifth was rated as "in college". Two or 



34 Capital Punishment 

three of these had been to college, though none was a college graduate. 
The others had acquired their knowledge of words without the advan- 
tages of a college education. 

Of the group of illiterates and near illiterates, 268 were boys of 14 
to 20 years old. Of these, ten white prisoners and 72 Negroes were 
totally illiterate and an additional group of 35 whites and 151 Negroes 
were unable to read a newspaper. These groups include nine per cent 
of all white prisoners and 21 per cent of all Negro prisoners. All these 
persons are within the public school ages of six to 21 years. If the 
proportion holds for the whole group in the State, more than 425 boys 
in the penal system, who are unable to read a newspaper or to qualify 
to vote by age are still entitled to attend the public schools. Moreover, 
all these young prisoners have grown up since the State has had a com- 
pulsory school attendance law. That law, evidently, has not been en- 
forced in the cases of most of the prisoners who are normal mentally, 
and, if enforced in the cases of those so mentally subnormal as to be 
unable to profit by the instruction offered in the public schools, no ade- 
quate steps have been taken by the State to care for these defectives. 

The graphs included in this chapter are based on indictments re- 
turned in the 100 Superior Courts of the State during the nineteen-year 
period of this study. 



Capital Punishment 



35 




GRAPH V 

Racial Distribution of Crime, Per 100,000 Poplxation in North Carolina, 
AS Shown by Superior Court Indictments 



36 



Capital Punishment 




GRAPH VI 

Percentage of Crime by Negroes in North Carolina 



CHAPTER IV 



REPORTS OF ELECTROCUTIONS 



The following reports of some recent executions by electrocution quoted 
verbatim from The Raleigh News and Ohserver and The Greensboro Daily 
News describe the scenes which attend the infliction of the death penalty 
in North Carolina. 

The Case of Jim Collins 

Jim Collins, nineteen-year old Anson County Negro, who yesterday 
paid the death penalty in the electric chair at State's Prison, faced his 
doom with a calmness seldom achieved by the most heroic of men. 

"Howdy, you all", said Collins in the best of humor as he walked 
into the small chamber, accompanied by Rev. W. S. Shacklette, the 
prison chaplain, and three ministers of his own race. 

Repeating in a firm and clear voice the familiar strains of the Psalm 
beginning "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want", the little Negro 
said at the end "All right". Chaplain Shacklette leaned Over and shook 
the one hand that had been left by those who pursued the Negro for 
eight days, the straps were fastened and the current turned on. 

To all outward appearances the single shock was sufficient but Warden 
Norman after one glance with an experienced eye signalled for the cur- 
rent again and it was applied the second time. Beyond the inevitable 
recoil from the shock of the 1,800 volts of electricity, there was no 
sign from the body except a bright flare of flame and the odor of burn- 
ing flesh. He went confldently to his doom and quietly he endured it. 

Collins was executed for shooting A. C. Sedberry, a white man weigh- 
ing 215 pounds and a member of a prominent family. The shooting 
followed a quarrel precipitated by the white man who assaulted the 
Negro and cuffed him about the head. 

The case has attracted little attention outside of Anson County, where 
the shooting provoked intense excitement last July and where interest 
has been maintained. However, there have been few cases where so 
much quiet effort has been made before the Governor. Relatives and 
friends of Sedberry have worked unceasingly to see that the death pen- 
alty was imposed and attorneys for the private prosecution remained 
in the case through the hearing for clemency before Governor McLean. 
Collins, poor and friendless and without lawyers of his own, elicited 
the sympathy of the lawyers appointed by the court to defend him and 
their efforts received support from such disinterested persons as Assistant 
Attorney General Frank Nash and Bishop Joseph Blount Cheshire. 

As the little Negro, who had already lost his right arm while fleeing 
from a mob, was led into the chamber to be strapped into the chair, 
J. Chesley Sedberry, Rockingham lawyer and brother of the man killed 
by Collins, pressed forward against the chain which shuts off a small 
space around the chair. The lawyer brother, who has followed the 
case all the way through the trial in the Superior Court, the appeal in 
the Supreme Court and the hearing for clemency before Governor Mc- 
Lean, missed no scintilla of what occurred yesterday. After the dying 
declaration by the Negro youth, the brother of the dead man stepped 
back to the side of Baxter McRae, an eye witness to the killing, and 
remained near the wall of the little octagonal room, with his eyes glued 
upon the huddled form in the chair until two full shocks had been 



38 Capital Punishment 

administered and Dr. J. H. Norman, prison warden and physician, had 
applied instruments to the shrunken form and had declared that all 
life was extinct. 

The spectacle appeared to in no way affect the attitude of the brother. 
He stepped briskly into the conversation as one of the Negro ministers 
was relating to newspapermen the dead Negro's feeling of justification 
and declared that the beating administered the Negro by his brother 
had been greatly exaggerated and that Collins was only slapped. 

H. H. McLendon and H. P. Taylor, the attorneys appointed by the 
court to defend the Negro, appealed to the Supreme Court on the theory 
that the evidence did not justify a first degree verdict. The court kept 
the case from the Pall term to the Spring term but finally affirmed the 
judgment of the court below. 

The case was then brought before the Governor, with Assistant At- 
torney General Nash, who argued the case in behalf of the State in 
the Supreme Court, asserting that the execution, under the circumstances, 
would be "an outrage to the State". Bishop Cheshire and others who 
ordinarily take no part in such matters joined in and considerable effort 
was made to save the Negro. These efforts kept up through Thursday 
when the three Negro ministers who were with him in his last moments 
wired the Governor in New York. 

Collins shot Sedberry on July 19, 1924. It was in evidence that 
he had made arrangements to give himself up but a mob formed before 
the sheriff reached him and the Negro fied, being captured eight days 
later near the line between Stanly and Cabarrus counties. 

After being cuffed by the white man, Collins got a shot gun, which 
was taken away from him, and then got a pistol, following Sedberry 
down the road and shooting him in the back. 

In the opinion of the Supreme Court Justice Adams sets forth the 
circumstances of the killing as follows: 

"On the day of the homicide the deceased was engaged in scraping 
the public road. He and Baxter McRae were running a road grader. 
They met a car. The prisoner was on the running board. During a 
part of 1924 the prisoner had worked for the deceased but had left him 
and was employed by William Culledge when the homicide occurred. 
The deceased had the car to stop when it approached the grader and 
this conversation followed: 

"Sedberry: 'Jim, why did you do like you did this morning?' 

"Collins: 'Did what?' 

"Sedberry: 'Send Oscar Culledge for the money.' 

"Collins: 'I just sent him.' 

"Sedberry: 'Ain't you a man of your own?' 

"Collins: 'I am.' 

"Sedberry: 'Why did you not come and get it?' 

"Collins: 'I just didn't come.' 

"Sedberry: 'I owe you $2.37 and carried you one night to see the 
doctor, didn't I?' 

"Collins: 'You did.' 

"Sedberry: 'I didn't intend to charge you for that if you had stayed 
your time out you hired to work but as you did not I am going to 
charge you $2.50 for that trip; that leaves you owing me 13 cents and 
I am going to strike off even with you.' 

"Collins: 'I don't give a damn what you do with it.' 

"Sedberry (after stepping down from the road machine) : 'Don't you 
cuss me.' 

"Collins: 'I didn't cuss you.' 

"Sedberry: 'You cussed at me.'" 



Capital Punishment 39 

As Judge Adams reviews the testimony this conversation was followed 
by a fight in which the white man jumped on the Negro and beat him 
up badly. The Negro got a shot gun and started after the white man 
but the shot gun was taken away from him by another Negro. He 
then went and got a pistol, with which he did the killing. 

The Case of Arthur Montague 

Making frantic appeals to Jesus to "save my soul", Arthur Montague, 
a twenty-two-year old Negro, paid with his life the full penalty of the 
law yesterday morning at the State's prison for attacking a small white 
girl, an Inmate of the State School for the Deaf at Morganton. 

The Negro's body was badly burned by the 2,200 volts of electricity 
shot through him. His body convulsed and the mnscles tautened as 
the current was turned on at the signal from Dr. J. H. Norman, and 
although a second charge was necessary after the first, which lasted 
two minutes and twenty seconds, the Negro did not regain conscious- 
ness before the current was turned on for an additional minute and 
fifteen seconds before the body was carted away In a basket. 

The Case of David Jones 

Two hearses stood in the shadow of the grim octagonal turret yes- 
terday morning in the yard of the State Penitentiary. 

At 10:26 a. m. the guards dragged Jones into the little room where 
he had an engagement with the people of North Carolina and at 10:31 
they unstrapped his steaming remains from the chair, placed it in a 
casket and loaded it into one of the waiting hearses. 

The electrocution contained few spectacular scenes. The prisoner 
seemed dazed with fright and submitted passively to all that was done 
to him. He did not fight the current and after two shocks was pro- 
nounced dead. The first shock lasted twenty-five seconds and the second 
shock one minute and nineteen seconds. 

"Goodbye, Ed, meet me in glory", Jones shouted as the guards led 
him down the corridor but once he stood in the little room which was 
packed to the guard rail with sensation seeking witnesses, he did not 
have another word to say. 

The Case of Will WiUlams 

With eyeballs blazing in religious ecstasy and fear but with his body 
submissive and ready for death, Will Williams, Scotland County mur- 
derer, yesterday took his seat in the gaunt electric chair at the State's 
prison where two stern shocks of eighteen hundred volts of lethal cur- 
rent tore life from him. 

"I'm going home this morning, Jesus. I'm going home this morn- 
ing," the little brown skinned Negro cried, as he entered the death 
chamber. "Stand by me, Jesus; you said you'd stand by me. I'm going 
home to peace. Yes, Jesus, stand by me. I'm going home to die no mo'. 
All you men meet me in glory, will you?" 

The mask went over his face and he was quiet. Deputy Warden Honey- 
cutt poured water into the points of contact at the cap and leg. Warden 
Norman gave the signal and J. E. Thomas, of Franklin County, execu- 
tioner, pulled the switch that poured the tremendous current into the 
little body of the Negro. 

The diminutive body became a rigid column. The hands clenched with 
the thumbs caught inside. The water sang like a tea kettle in the con- 
tacts and the flesh burned and cracked aloud. The odor of flesh filled 
the little octagonal room. The leg and trunk of the Negro writhed in 



40 Capital Punishment 

the grip of the current. The body slumped as the first shot ended after 
one minute and forty-five seconds. Dr. Norman listened at the heart 
after Honeycutt pulled aside the blue shirt. There was still life and 
Norman signaled again. It lasted forty-five seconds. 

The body was dumped into a basket and carried to the Brown under- 
taking establishment to wait burial, if relatives wanted or for use in 
a vivisection room at a medical school. There were no relatives at the 
execution, and no witness from the county of the crime. 

There was little apparent interest in the execution. Only one or two 
curiosity seekers failed to gain admittance to the death chamber because 
of the law allowing only six witnesses besides attendants and newspaper- 
men. All tickets to the electrocution had not been secured in advance 
and three young men tossed coins to see who should see it, the odd man 
to win. 

The Case of George liove 

Once populous death row at the State's Prison is a lonesome place today, 
its local population consisting of two Negroes, one crazy, for yesterday 
they took George Love out and electrocuted him for the murder of Bill 
Brock, a white man, running the total of executions for the year up to 
a record-breaking ten. 

When Will Williams, Negro, was electrocuted one week ago, the toll 
of the death -machine for the year 1925 equaled, with nine, the totals 
of the other two "heavy" years, 1911 and 1916. When George Love 
was pronounced dead the total for the first six months of 1925 was 
pushed ahead of the total of any preceding twelve months since the death 
chair was established in 1909. The ten executions follow on the heels 
of 1924, when only one man was electrocuted. 

Death row could not even raise a condemned duet to cheer George 
along on his last short walk, for Cheatham Evans, half of the death row 
inmates, is too crazy with the dread of approaching death to carry a 
tune. 

When the hand of the executioner pushed the death switch home, the 
deep bass of the roaring dynamos rose to a whining, whirring soprano, 
and the muscles on the throat of the man who had lately been singing 
himself bulged and twisted, as the water hissed, steamed and boiled under 
the death helmet and trickled down on the brow of the dying man. 

The taut body in the chair alternately rose and slumped as the execu- 
tioner turned the switchboard knob that regulates the number of amperes 
mingled with the eighteen hundred volts. When a large number of am- 
peres were turned on the fingers would clinch, the muscles would bulge 
and the body strain against the straps as though it were trying to escape. 

Then the amperage would be lowered momentarily and the body would 
seem to relax in a gesture of relief, only to be snapped up by another 
injection of amperes. 

The Case of John Leak and Kenneth Hale 

Yesterday morning at forty minutes past ten, two thousand volts of 
electricity drew the body of the Negro, John Leak, taut and rigid against 
the chair in the little eight sided room in the State prison and sent what 
soul he had out into the Great Beyond to meet what further penalty if 
any eternity may have in store for him for the killing of a Davidson 
County taxicab driver. 

Shouting "aniens" and "hallelujahs", Kenneth Hale, seventeen-year old 
Negro, Leak's partner, had preceded him to the chair and had been de- 
clared dead after the splendid vitality of his young body had waged a 



Capital Punishment 41 

bitter fight with the four shoclcs of highly ampered electricity that was 
shot through his frame. 

Among the thirty odd spectators who saw the electrocutions were: the 
wife of the Davidson County sheriff, who accompanied her husband to 
Raleigh for the culminating spectacle and the brother of the slain taxi 
driver. As the stench of the burning flesh pervaded the little room the 
sheriff lit a cigar that would permit the rivalry of no other odor. 

"Well, that's the end of the Garwood case," said the sheriff as the 
current caught the Negro. "Somebody lend me a match, my cigar's out." 

The Case of the Stewarts 

C. W. Stewart and Elmer Stewart, father and son, were electrocuted 
yesterday morning at the State's prison for the murder of a Wilmington 
city detective. Their execution marked the first time in the State of 
North Carolina that two white men have paid the death penalty on the 
same day. 

For the first time in history electrocutions at the State's prison were 
performed by hired executioners. Joe Stone, of Robeson County, with 
iron gray hair and long mustache, received $25 for throwing the switch 
that shot the lethal current through the elder Stewart. J. E. Thomas, 
of Louisburg, stout and jovial, administered the shocks that killed the 
boy. 

As the prisoners entered the death chamber they did not look the 
upstanding men they appeared about one week before their death. Old 
Man Stewart, who was called first, was red-eyed and haggard, as though 
he had not slept well and had been crying. His mustache had been shorn 
as well as his iron gray hair and he looked like a sick old man rather 
than a cold blooded desperado. 

His arms and his legs were strapped to the big chair and a leather 
strap was fastened about his body. The mask-like leather harness was 
tightened about his face and under his chin leaving only his nose and 
chin visible. The cloth-covered helmet with the sponge in it was placed 
over his shaven head. The death wire was fastened into the place pro- 
vided for it on the top of the helmet. 

An attendant took an old shaving mug, got some water out of a bucket 
and poured it over the helmet. Dr. J. H. Norman, the new warden, 
examined the job then stepped back from the chair and clicked the ear 
pieces of his stethoscope sharply together — the death signal. 

Old Man Joe Stone at the switch missed the first signal and the doctor 
had to make a louder one. This time the executioner caught it and 
pulled down the switch. 

The relaxed body in the chair suddenly tightened as a patient tightens 
in a dentist chair when the dentist strikes a live nerve. The chin tilted 
upwards in a gesture of the ultimate of agony. There came a sound 
from the chair as of bacon frying and the stench of scorching flesh per- 
vaded the room. 

It took three shocks to kill the elder Stewart, the first lasting 56 
seconds, the next 34 seconds and the final 26 seconds. When the body 
was removed it was completely purple except for leprous white streaks 
which showed where it had strained against the straps caught in the 
whirl of 1,800 volts of high ampered electricity. 

Above the hum of the dynamo while they were electrocuting the elder 
Stewart could be heard the exhorting words of spiritual guidance which 
were being given the younger Stewart in his cell on death row where 
he awaited his turn at the chair. 



42 Capital Punishment 

The young Stewart was more nervous than his father, when they 
brought him in. He seemed to wish to prolong his life. At the first 
glimpse of the chair he shrank away from it. 

"Take your time: I'm in no hurry," he muttered to the attendants 
who were strapping him in. "O dear God, be with us all. O dear my 
father, let me meet you in heaven. O Jesus, be with me now," he said 
in a sing-song voice over and over again. The strap which was placed 
across his mouth made the words almost unintelligible but now and again 
one could catch the words "God," "Jesus," "Father and Heaven." 

The warden held up the moment of throwing the switch to wait for 
the boy to stop talking but he showed no signs and the death current 
caught him in the midst of exhortation. Again the chin tilted up at an 
angle of agony and again came the crackling, cooking sound and the 
stench of scorching flesh. 

The water that had been poured over the helmet steamed and a great 
blister rose and burst on the boy's leg. 

Outside the prison walls curiously morbid crowds sat on box cars with 
their eyes glued on the windows of the death room and swirled about 
the closed gates to the prison yard. They saw the hearse drive up and 
saw the baskets containing the bodies of the executed men carried out. 

The Case of the Cains 

The tests were all made, the death-wagon with two baskets for the 
bodies of the brothers rumbled on the sidewalk and everything was ready 
for the execution. Joe Cain, who finally attained spiritual heights by 
breaking into semi-emotionalism, appeared least ready to go. He thought 
he had a right to hope. But this morning he seemed most anxious to 
get through with the ordeal and he came first to the chair. 

"Well, I haven't anything against anybody in the world," he said, 
and primitive prayers were reeled off as long as the big leather straps 
would allow him to articulate. Through the helmet one could see Joe's 
eyes looking unto the hills from which he hoped to get help. He never 
looked down but up and he was whispering prayers when the current 
struck him. He patted his hands nervously against the arms of the 
chair and was in motion when the voltage hit him. Paralysis complete 
followed, the dynamo pulled powerfully and big Joe's chest struggled 
against the bands. The current remained on forty seconds when the 
flesh began to fry and great blisters break out from the points of contact. 

Then occurred something never seen there in the four dozen slain 
by the State. Dr. A. W. Knox, prison physician, went over to put the 
stethescope on the dead man's heart, and Cain breathed visibly to the 
whole room. Three times full breaths were registered and the current 
went on for 25 seconds. Then when the wretched devil was dead he sat 
bolt upright with eyes wide open looking heavenward. It was an awful 
spectacle. 

They took Joe out and Gardner came in. The smaller man was in 
the best frame of mind that Mr. Caviness had seen him. "The Lord 
be with you," said Gardner Cain as he rounded the door leading into 
the room, "God bless you all." 

The second victim stood and smiled at his preacher, shook hands 
warmly, and took the chair so hospitably prepared for him by a State, 
such a sanctimonious stickler for its own protection, so indifferent to 
its obligations to its moral morons and idiots. Gardner Cain deserves 
the reputation that he has won, having more sense than his brother. 
The smaller man dropped down, chattered off his prayers on the chair 
and viewed it with greatest apparent interest. As they harnessed him 



Capital Punishment 43 

up to the chin he was all brightness and animation. He went away with 
grace and abandon. 

Warden Busbee would take no chances on him until 57 seconds had 
fried away. The little man was not then dead. His heart just pumped 
away. Twenty-five seconds more did the work. Cains were riding side 
by side in baskets on their way to the undertaker. 

The Case of Mclver Burnett 

In the presence of the woman upon whom he had committed crime, 
strapped helpless and unresisting in the chair not five feet from where 
she stood, Mclver Burnett, a wisp of a Negro boy not much more than 
16 years old, paid the death penalty at the State prison yesterday morn- 
ing. Nine other women were among the crowds of 82 persons who 
watched him pay with the only currency that he had. 

Again the prison authorities found it necessary yesterday morning to 
set guards about the gate to keep back the throng that pressed for 
admission. Seemingly the tribe of the morbidly curious had suffered 
no diminution. An hour and a half before the gates were opened, there 
were more than enough men and women without the gate to fill the death 
chamber, and every passing minute added to their number. 

Outnumbering any other single class of seekers for admission were 
youths wearing the red caps that distinguish State College freshmen. 
Few of them had tickets, and but one survived the rush that began 
when the guards on the gate began to allow the crowd to trickle past. 
It was 10 o'clock, and half an hour before the accounting with the 
Negro. 

One by one eighty or ninety who had tickets surrendered them to the 
guard, and rushed across the grounds straight to the door of the death 
chamber. They had no regard for the placarded admonition to keep off 
the grass. They ran scrambling up the steps without breath left in their 
lungs, and looked back to survey those who followed, with the pleased 
expression of those who have acquired advantage of some sort. 

By some miracle eighty-two people passed into the narrow chamber, 
crowded so thickly that when one of the women fainted during the 
electrocution, she could not fall to the floor. She stood packed there 
until the doors were thrown open and she was taken into the air. She 
was revived without much difficulty. So densely was the crowd packed 
that it was impossible to close the wooden doors. Some few stood on 
the steps outside and peered through the iron grating. 

Fifteen minutes were left of life for the Negro when the last of the 
throng was packed into the room. From within the death row came 
the sonorous voice of the minister. Somebody giggled nervously and 
it echoed around the room. 

A slight, rather pretty young woman, seemingly not yet twenty years 
old, Mrs. McGhee, stood against the steel chain that encircles the chair 
placed so that she would be the first to see the Negro boy when he 
came through the door of death row. She clung to the arm of a some- 
what older woman. Her husband stood beside her racked by nervous- 
ness he was powerless to control. 

The Negro minister came first, stumbling and almost falling into the 
chamber. He had caught his foot over somebody's shoe at the door. 
A guard and then the Negro and another guard followed slowly after 
him. The minister's Psalm was halted for a moment when he stumbled. 

Nature had made the boy black but fear had turned him an ashen 
gray. Lacking the hideous distortion of fear it might have been a harm- 
less, good natured face, like that of any sixteen-year old Negro boy. He 



44 Capital Punishment 

was little under average height, and weighed perhaps 120 pounds. He 
was dressed in the rough clothes of the prison, a hickory stripe shirt 
open at the neck and blue denim trousers, slit up the right leg to make 
way for the electrode against the naked flesh. His head was shaved. 

Without a word he sat down in the chair, and the minister stepped to 
one side to make room for the attendants who began to strap him in 
the chair. 

So dense was the crowd, and so long did it take them to unpack them- 
selves, that fifty or so of them saw an angle of the tragedy that not 
many such crowds see. As soon as he was dead, the body was unstrapped. 
It lay there, limp and with the hideous distortion of death frozen across 
its face. The hands dropped drunkenly toward the floor. The mouth 
being open, dripping a froth of saliva that had boiled almost from the 
powerful heat of the current. The burns of the head and face and on 
the leg stood out vividly. 

"Well, did you enjoy it?" Somebody asked the young woman who 
was the Negro's victom. 

"I sure did," she replied. She had lost none of her composure. 



CHAPTER V 



JUSTICE BY EXECUTIVE CLEMENCY 



The following case presents a good example of the exercise of executive 
clemency to secure belated justice in a capital case. 

Cyrus Jones, a mail carrier who also operated an automobile for hire, 
was shot on the highway about a mile and a half from the town of 
Swansboro, in which he lived, at approximately seven o'clock in the even- 
ing of August 5, 1922. 

After he was shot, he drove his automobile back to the home of a 
neighbor, John Midgett, where he stopped. Jones' wife at the time was 
away from home. Answering his cries for help, Midgett asked him what 
was the matter, to which Jones replied that he had been beaten to death 
and there was no chance for him, and asked to be taken out of the car 
and to his home. Just hefore he helped Jones out of the car Midgett 
asked him who had beaten him, and Jones' reply was, "Collins, Williams 
and Doves". At the subsequent trial there was ample evidence to prove 
that Willie Hardison was known in the community as Collins. 

Unconscious most of the time, Jones lingered from Saturday until the 
following Wednesday night when he died of meningitis caused by the 
gun-shot wound in the left side of his head which had been inflicted 
with a size four or six shot. 

George Williams, Frank Dove, Fred Dove and Willie Hardison were 
indicted for first degree murder of Jones by the Grand Jury and after 
a special venire, at the October, 1922, term of Superior Court of Onslow 
County, with Judge E. H. Cranmer presiding, they were tried, found 
guilty and sentenced to electrocution. The testimony of Hardison was 
largely instrumental in convicting the other three men. 

Hardison, who was tried separately, appealed to the Supreme Court, 
but his appeal was denied and he was electrocuted at the State Prison 
in Raleigh on the morning of April 27, 1923. On the morning of his 
electrocution he confessed to the murder of Cyrus Jones, and stated 
further that Williams and the Dove boys had nothing whatever to do 
with the crime. 

These three men also appealed to the Supreme Court, but no error 
was found in the trial of their case, and new dates were set for their 
electrocution. 

Many letters requesting executive clemency for them were written to 
the Governor. The trial Judge, E. H. Cranmer, Solicitor Powers who had 
prosecuted them, and H. E. Stacy who assisted the Solicitor all recom- 
mended a full pardon. A petition signed by more than 400 of the lead- 
ing citizens of Onslow County including four jurors, the Swansboro Post- 
master, an ex-sheriff, the current Sheriff, the Clerk of the Superior Court, 
and many other representative white and Negro citizens was sent to the 
Governor. 

A letter of protest was received by the Governor from the mother of 
Cyrus Jones, enclosing a petition signed by between 500 and 1,000 persons 
protesting against the change of the sentence of these prisoners. 

Governor Morrison's Statement 

On January 28, 1923, Governor Cameron Morrison issued the follow- 
ing statement: 

"George Williams and Frank and Fred Dove, the prisoners in this 




Top — Frank Dove; Middle — George Williams; Bottom — Fred Dove 



Capital Punishment 47 

case, were convicted, together with Willie Hardison, of murder in the 
first degree at the October term, 1922, Superior Court of Onslow County. 
Willie Hardison has already been electrocuted. 

"A most serious question has arisen as to the degree of guilt of the 
other three defendants. 

"For the reasons set forth in the letter of Judge Cranmer, which is 
as follows: 'George Williams, Frank Dove, Fred Dove and William 
Hardison were tried by me in Onslow County for the unlawful killing 
of Cyrus Jones, and each of them was convicted of murder in the first 
degree. William Hardison has been executed. You are familiar with 
the case, and what has occurred since the trial. 

" 'I have given the matter serious thought and consideration. I saw 
William Hardison the afternoon before his electrocution, and talked with 
him. He stated to me, positively, more than once, that he, alone, killed 
Cyrus Jones, and that neither of the others aided, assisted, abetted or 
encouraged the crime, and neither of them knew anything about it. 

" 'I have prayed "God of all truth, knowledge and judgment, with 
out Whom nothing is true, or wise or just" to direct me, and to direct 
you. Each of us has a duty to perform, and each of us, with Robert 
E. Lee, believes that "duty is the sublimest word in the language." I 
know that you have, and will continue to carefully and thoroughly weigh 
the facts in this case, before reaching a conclusion, and I know, too, 
that any recommendation will not move you, unless your investigations 
indicate the same course. 

" 'After thought, reflection and prayer, I recommend, my dear Governor, 
that you pardon George Williams, Frank Dove and Fred Dove.' 

"I hereby commute the sentence of death of these three prisoners to 
life imprisonment, at the present. 

"This case requires careful study, as his honor, Judge Hoke of the 
Supreme Court bench, doubts very much the guilt of these parties, and 
when a fearless and upright judge like Judge Cranmer entertains the 
opinion as set forth in the foregoing letter, I hesitate to let the men 
suffer at all, but I hope that every doubt about the matter can be cleared 
up, and I shall endeavor, later, to go deeply into the case with a view 
to determining whether or not the men should be discharged entirely, 
as recommended by Judge Cranmer." 

Petition for Absolute Pardon 

In August, 1925, through their attorneys, Williams and the Dove boys 
petitioned the Governor for an absolute pardon. In their petition they 
set forth that they were convicted on the testimony of Willie Hardison 
who, after their trial and conviction, stated on several occasions and 
once immediately before his execution, in the presence of the Solicitor 
who prosecuted and the Judge who presided at the trial, that his testi- 
mony before the jury that convicted Williams and the Doves was wholly 
untrue, and that they were innocent and took no part in the murder of 
Cyrus Jones. 

It was further set forth in their petition that the original statement 
of Willie Hardison implicating them was forced from him under the 
lash, and under threats of lynching; that as soon as Willie Hardison 
arrived at Raleigh and was out of the environment which brought about 
the statement by which they were implicated and had no further motive 
of hope to clear himself or to get his punishment reduced, he made a 
full and frank confession without any suggestion or inducement from 
the petitioners or other persons on their behalf, in which he fully exon- 
erated them and took full responsibility for the crime. This confession 



48 Capital Punishment 

was in the form of a letter written to the Sheriff of Onslow County, and 
other letters and affidavits, the originals and copies of which are in the 
office of the Clerk of the Supreme Court. 

They also stated that they were not guilty of the crime of which they 
had been convicted, either as principals or accessories, and had nothing 
to do with planning or executing the crime, and had no knowledge or 
information as to it until after the crime had been committed. Hence 
they prayed the Governor to grant to each of them "a most gracious 
pardon to the end that they might be liberated and rejoin their families, 
and live the lives of upright and dutiful citizens as they had done in 
the past." 

Under date of September 1, 1925, the Commissioner of Pardons ad- 
dressed a letter to their attorneys in which he said, "I regret to advise 
that the Governor has declined to extend clemency in the case of George 
Williams, Frank Dove and Fred Dove". 

After these men had served almost six years in the State prison, dur- 
ing which time they were model prisoners, maintaining a grade of A, 
a second petition was presented to Governor McLean in February, 1928, 
requesting a full pardon for them. On March 1, 1928, the Governor 
acted favorably on this petition and issued the following statement: 

Governor McLean's Statement 

"The above named prisoners, George Williams, Frank Dove and Fred 
Dove, were convicted at the October term, 1922, Superior Court of 
Onslow County of murder in the first degree and sentenced to death by 
electrocution. 

"The sentence of death in the case of these three prisoners was com- 
muted to a sentence of life imprisonment on June 28, 1923, by Governor 
Cameron Morrison. 

"Mr. Jas. A. Powers, the trial Solicitor, has written a very strong let- 
ter relative to this case and states in part as follows: 'In view of all 
these facts and circumstances and after carefully considering the matter 
from every standpoint and after having friends, in whom I have con- 
fidence in their sound judgment and discretion, to read over all the 
evidence in the case and give me their honest and candid opinion, I 
feel that it is my duty from any and every standpoint, legal, moral and 
spiritual, that I most earnestly recommend that these defendants be 
absolutely pardoned of the crime of which they have been convicted.' 

"There is also on file a strong letter from the trial Judge, Hon. E. H. 
Cranmer, who states that Willie Hardison who was tried separately for 
this offense and was convicted of murder in the first degree and has 
already been electrocuted, was interviewed by Judge Cranmer the day 
before his electrocution and stated to the Judge positively, more than 
once, that he alone killed Cyrus Jones and these three prisoners neither 
aided, assisted or encouraged the crime and knew nothing about it. 

"Mr. O. S. Pittman and Mr. Fred B. Pittman, who state that they 
were among those who arrested the four prisoners, write a strong letter 
recommending the release of the above named three. 

"Mr. H. E. Stacy, who assisted the Solicitor in the prosecution of 
the case, has written a letter recommending a full pardon. 

"Dr. H. F. Blount of Swansboro has also written a strong letter stat- 
ing that he does not believe that these three had anything to do with 
the murder. 

"A number of the jurors who heard the case have likewise recom- 
mended their pardon. 



Capital Punishment 49 

"Relying upon the feeling that seems to exist in the minds of prac- 
tically all of the court officials who tried this case, the recommendation 
of the trial Judge and Solicitor, the private prosecution, a number of 
the jurors, the Sheriff and even the prosecuting witnesses that these three 
men are absolutely innocent and are now serving and have served for 
a crime of which they had been convicted upon testimony which later 
proved to be untrue, and taking into consideration that the guilty party 
who was electrocuted stated to the Prison Warden that he had sworn 
against the above-stated three prisoners as a result of which their con- 
viction followed, I am of the opinion that these three defendants should 
be given an absolute pardon, in accordance with the request of the trial 
Judge and the trial Solicitor and for the said reasons herein enumerated." 



CHAPTER VI 



LYNCHING AND MOB VIOLENCE 



In any study of capital punishment discussion of lynching should be 
included, since lynching, mob violence of the worst kind, is itself a form 
of capital punishment, although an extra-legal one. It represents a 
violent interference with the due processes of law, and a complete dis- 
ruption of the procedure by which lawful capital punishment, if deserved, 
is administered. The obvious victim of a lynching is a person who by 
the commission — or the alleged commission — of some offense has in- 
curred the ill-will of a community. The invisible victim is the law. Less 
respect for constituted authority inevitably follows each occurrence of 
mob rule. 

Recently there has been considerable discussion of what constitutes 
a lynching. It has been urged that victims of riots should be included 
in lists of lynchings. Compilers of records have found it necessary to 
have a working definition in order that out of the great mass of in- 
formation which is collected with reference to crime in its various aspects 
the particular set of crimes designated as lynchings be placed in a special 
category. 

The definition which these compilers of records have generally used 
is that "lynching has to do with individuals supplanting the law and 
acting in defiance of the law". The result is that lists of lynchings have 
generally included only those cases in which individuals charged with 
offenses which made them subject to the law have been put to death 
without due legal procedure, whereas the law should have been permitted 
to take its course, the victims should have been accorded a trial and 
the punishment, if any, should have been legally meted out. That is, 
the idea that lynching is punishment, without due legal process, of per- 
sons charged with offenses against the law appears to be borne out by 
the definitions of lynchings which have been formulated and used during 
the past 8 2 years. 

In general, the practice of compilers of lynching records has been not 
to include in such records cases of persons put to death in what are 
commonly designated as riots. The whole matter would seem to turn 
upon where one is to draw the line between riots in which there is pro- 
miscuous killing of individuals, and lynchings by which particular in- 
dividuals are seized and put to death for alleged offenses. 

It would further appear that a definition of lynching and the cate- 
gorial distinction, if there is any, between persons killed in so-called 
lynchings and in riots, are legal matters, questions of law and fact. Con- 
sequently, a revision of the definition of lynching, if there is a need for 
such revision, could most properly be made by a committee of lawyers, 
representing the whole country; as for example, a committee from the 
American Bar Association. 

On the other hand, since a question of law and fact is involved, a 
final and authoritative definition of lynching would have to be made by 
the courts. As for example, a case under one of the present State laws 
against lynchings might be brought against a county where an alleged 
lynching had occurred. The case might turn upon the question of what 
constitutes a lynching and might be carried through all the courts up 
to the United States Supreme Court. This court's definition and ruling 
would be final and authoritative. 



Capital Punishment 



51 



Statistics on Lynchings 

According to The Islegro Year Book published at Tuskegee Institute, 
"The lynching record for 1924 was the lowest for any year since records 
of lynchings have been kept. The next lowest records were in 1917 
when the number was 38 and 1923 when the number was 33. The decade 
1915-1924, when compared with the previous three decades, was notable 
for the decrease in the number of lynchings. In the decade 1915-1924, 
there were 53 7 lynchings. This was 23.4 per cent less than the number, 
701, for the decade 1905-1914; 56.5 per cent less than the number, 
1239, for the decade 1895-1904 and 70 per cent less than the number, 
1726 for the decade 1885-1894. 

Ninety women have been lynched in the United States during the last 
40 years. 

The two following tables are taken from The Islegro Year Book. 

LYNCHINGS IN THE UNITED STATES BY DECADE — 1885-1924 



Decade 


NUMBER OF LYNCHINGS 


Whites 


Negroes 


Total 


1885-1894 


653 


1073 


1726 


1895-1904 . .. 


270 


969 


1239 






1905-1914 


62 


639 


701 


1915-1924- 


53 


484 


537 






Total 


1038 


3165 


4203 



It will be noted from the foregoing table that the number of white 
victims has decreased more rapidly than the number of Negro victims. 

An indication of the growth of sentiment against lynching is found 
in the increase, in recent years, of the number of efforts to prevent this 
form of mob violence. In 1914 there were reported 52 persons lynched 
and 17 cases of prevention of lynching. That is, there were more than 
three times as many lynchings as there were cases of prevention. How- 
ever, in 1924, ten years later, the opposite was true. Then there were 
reported 45 cases of prevention as against 16 lynchings, more than twice 
as many instances of prevention than of accomplishment. 

REPORTED LYNCHINGS AND INSTANCES OP PREVENTION IN THE 
UNITED STATES 1914-1924 



Year 


Number of Lynchings 


Number of Lynchings 
Prevented 


1914 


52 


16 


1915 


67 


19 


1916 


54 


18 


1917 


38 


18 


1918 


64 


13 


1919 


83 


37 


1920 


61 


56 


1921 


64 


72 


1922 


57 


58 


1923 


33 


52 


1924 


16 


45 




589 


404 



52 



Capital Punishment 



LYNCHINGS IN NORTH CAROLINA 1882-1928 



Year 


White 


Negro 


Total 


1883 





2 


2 








1884 


1 


3 


4 








1885 


2 


3 


5 








1886 


2 





2 








1887 





3 


3 








1888 


2 


8 


10 








1889 


2 


2 


4 








1890 





2 


2 








1891 





2 


2 








1892 


2 


3 


5 








1893 





4 


4 








1894 . 


1 





1 








1895 





1 


1 








1896. - 





1 


1 








1897 


2 


2 


4 








1898 





4 


4 








1899 





3 


3 








1900 





3 


3 








1901 





1 


1 








1902 





3 


3 








1903 





1 


1 








1904 - . 





1 


1 








1905 





1 


1 








1906 


1 


4 


5 








1907 ... 

















1908 





1 


1 








1909 





1 


1 








1910 

















1911 

















1912 





1 


1 








1913 





1 


1 








1914 . .. 





1 


1 








1915 

















1916 





2 


2 








1917 ... 

















1918 





2 


2 








1919 





4 


4 








1920 - 





3 


3 








1921 





4 


4 








1922-28 











Total 


15 


77 


92 



Capital Punishment 53 

According to figures on mob violence compiled by the Department of 
Records and Research at Tuskegee Institute, there has been a total of 
92 lynchings in North Carolina since the year 1882. Fifteen victims 
of the mob were white and 77 were Negroes, that is, approximately 83 
per cent were Negroes and 16 per cent were white. 

The year 1907 was the first since 1882 during which there was no 
lynching in North Carolina. There has not been a lynching of a white 
man in North Carolina since 190 6, and the last lynching of a Negro took 
place in 1921. During the 21-year period, 1907-1928, there have been 
11 years during which North Carolina has been free from lynchings. 

The foregoing table shows that the largest number of lynchings in 
any one year was in 1888, when there were ten, eight Negroes and 
two whites. The second largest number in any year is five, in 1885, 
three Negroes and two whites; in 18 92, the same proportion; and in 
1906, four Negroes and one white. The third largest number is four, 
in 1884, three Negroes- and one white; in 1889, two Negroes and two 
whites; in 1893, all Negroes; in 1897, two Negroes and two whites; and 
in 1898, 1919 and 1921 all Negroes. 

Experience shows that lynchings can be reduced and eventually wiped 
out, provided proper methods are used. Although the State has a clean 
slate only in the last six years. North Carolina during the last decade 
has had fewer lynchings than any other Southern State, as a result of 
a policy opposed to all forms of lawlessness. Much of the improvement 
in this respect which is now seen in North Carolina is due to the lasting 
influence of Gov. T. W. Bickett. Governor Bickett was the first man 
in the State to meet a mob face to face and turn it back, and his method 
of dealing summarily with the members of mobs was strictly followed 
and strengthened by Gov. Cameron Morrison and Gov. A. W. McLean. 
There could be cited several cases in which lynchings would have taken 
place but for the fact that the Governor anticipated the mob and ordered 
troops to the disturbed locality. 

North Carolina has learned that rule by the mob must be met with 
stern force, and that the outbreak of mob violence must be anticipated 
and steps taken to prevent it. In the use of troops to forestall lynchings 
the Governors of North Carolina have had the hearty support of the 
people of the State. Public sentiment for justice has been strengthened 
by education along this line. And not only the public generally but the 
Sheriffs and other police officers also have cooperated with the Chief 
Executives in maintaining law and order in these cases. 

Two recent instances of mob violence and attempted lynching at 
Asheville and Williamston present outstanding examples of vigorous law 
enforcement in the meting out of swift justice to members of mobs. 

The Case at Asheville 

In September, 1925, a mob stormed the Buncombe County jail in 
an effort to secure and lynch Alvin Mansel, a Negro who was sentenced 
to death for criminal assault upon a white woman, and whose case 
history is included among those at the end of this study. Trial of 
29 men alleged to have been participants in and leaders of the mob re- 
sulted in the conviction of 11, while nine entered pleas of guilty. The 
trial began with 38 defendants facing the court, out of the 43 that had 
been indicted at a previous session of the Grand Jury. Nine of these 
were allowed to go at different stages of the trial when the Solicitor 
found that he could not make out a case against them because of lack 
of evidence. 



54 Capital Punishment 

Four sentences to the State Prison, 11 terms on the county roads 
and five suspended senten.ces were imposed upon the mob leaders by- 
Judge A. M. Stack who presided at the trial. Herman Banks and Luther 
Townsend suffered most heavily, each drawing a sentence of from four 
to eight years in the State Prison. Sam Stroupe and Jeter Bell, both 
of whom plead guilty, were sentenced to the State Prison for not less 
than three nor more than five years. Six defendants were sent to the 
county roads for a period of 12 months each. Other road sentences 
were for ten months, nine months, six months, six months with sus- 
pended sentence of two years in addition, 12 months with privilege 
of being hired out after two months and payment of a fine of $50.00 
and the costs. Five men received suspended sentences of 12 months 
each and were required to pay the costs in the case, which amounted 
to a considerable figure. 

The final scenes of the trial were enacted in the presence of a court 
room full of spectators. Several women mounted the bench to whisper 
in frantic plea to the Judge in behalf of some of the defendants, and 
their weeping was audible throughout the court room when Judge Stack 
told them that he felt that he had shown the limit of mercy consistent 
with the discharge of his duty to the State. 

In sentencing the defendants, Judge Stack declared from the bench: 

"God save the State that has to depend upon mobs to protect its women. 
The women of North Carolina do not have to depend upon mobs for 
their protection, the law will attend to that. What the officers needed 
down there that night was a few machine guns. North Carolina must 
put more red pepper in its handling of criminals. There were several 
hundred people down there at the jail that night and a crowd went to 
the Sheriff's home, yet nobody knew anybody". 

Not long ago, a petition, signed by more than 6,000 citizens of Ashe- 
ville seeking executive clemency for the members of the Asheville mob, 
was presented to Governor McLean. The Governor's statement in deny- 
ing clemency to the members of the mob follows: 

Governor McLean's Statement 

"Several months ago these men and many others deliberately stormed 
the Buncombe County jail in an effort to do violence to a prisoner; not 
finding the prisoner they sought they proceeded to harrass other pris- 
oners and to do injury to the prison and prison property. 

"The families of these prisoners have my deepest sympathy. The Com- 
missioner of Pardons, feeling that the families might exhaust their 
meagre resources in an effort to obtain freedom for the prisoners, went 
to Asheville and, at the expense of the State, heard their petitions in 
person. It is an unpleasant duty to decline these applications with the 
full knowledge of the distress that must result even though the pris- 
oners themselves be responsible. I am sure the good citizens of Ashe- 
ville, the churches, the civic organizations and others interested in human 
welfare will see that these unfortunates are provided for. This is a 
splendid opportunity for the proper exercise of human sympathy, and 
I am sure the splendid citizenship of Asheville will not fail in the per- 
formance of that duty. Those left at home to suffer call far more loudly 
for the sympathy and assistance of the law-abiding citizens than do those 
who have deliberately taken the law into their hands. But for the 
splendid effort on the part of the Sheriff and other oflicers of Buncombe 
County, those men would have been guilty of an even greater offense. 
I cannot commend the action of those officers too highly. 

"When the State of North Carolina takes a prisoner into custody it 
then becomes responsible for his safety and that responsibility remains 



Capital Punishment 55 

until his case is disposed of in accordance with law. A prisoner in 
custody of the law is entitled to the same protection as is the Judge 
on the bench, or the Solicitor who represents the State in the prosecu- 
tion. In this instance the State of North Carolina went to great ex- 
pense in order that the prisoner in question might be given a fair 
and impartial trial. The National Guard of the State was called into 
service at the expense of the taxpayers. The prisoners sought to destroy 
the very processes of government upon which they now rely. The Gov- 
ernor is the instrument of the law just as the jail is the instrument of 
the law. They were given a fair and impartial trial and convicted by 
jurors chosen from their fellowmen. The sentences imposed, it seems 
to me, were eminently fair and just and might easily have been more 
severe. 

"More than 6,000 persons have appealed to me in behalf of these 
men, among these I am advised by the Commissioner, are a large num- 
ber of police officers, justices of the peace, and other officials charged 
with the enforcement of law. Very probably these persons are moved 
and animated entirely by sympathy for the wives, mothers and children 
of the prisoners. Those who are asking for clemency for these men 
should remember that the crime they committed was one of the most 
serious known to our law — serious because the sovereignty of all the 
people of the State was trampled under foot and insulted by the mob 
when it attempted to take the law into its own hands. In a democracy 
like ours, the laws, and the courts set up for the enforcement of the 
laws represent the true sovereignty of the people, because the people 
can only express their sovereignty through the laws that are enacted 
by their representatives for the protection of society. 

"No question of mere sentiment should enter into a case of this kind. 
Sentiment should all be upon the side of the people whose sovereignty 
was insulted. 

"I have been much gratified at the outstanding evidence which we 
have seen in North Carolina in the last few months that our people are 
determined to suppress mob violence at any cost. It is one of the most 
refreshing things I have seen. No man can calculate the damage that 
may be done to the good name and fame of North Carolina by even 
one lynching, and the only way to suppress lynching is to let those who 
engage in it understand that they will be punished and punished severely, 
just as has been done in the Asheville and Martin County cases". 

A Case in Franklin County 

The following case which occurred in Franklin County shows how 
a mob bent upon lynching a Negro was circumvented and justice through 
law was secured for the mob's potential victim. The account of this 
case is compiled from reports in various newspapers. 

At three o'clock one morning in September, 1927, Algy Perry, a 
resident of Bunn's township, in Franklin County, on entering the room 
where his wife was sleeping, saw a form rise from the bed and make 
a wild dash for the open window. He asked his wife who it was. She 
replied that she had been asleep and did not know that anybody had 
been in the room except her husband. 

Mr. Perry aroused several of his neighbors, procured bloodhounds and 
started a chase. The dogs were placed on the trail at the window where 
Mr. Perry saw the retreating form. They went without hesitation, baying 
as they went, to the house where Weldon Bryant, a Negro, was found. 
They proceeded around the house to the back door and when it was 
opened started upstairs where Bryant was sleeping. To make sure that 



56 . Capital Punishment 

the right man was found, the men took the hounds back to Mr. Perry's 
house and again unleashed them. They followed the identical course 
previously taken. Bryant could give no clear account of his where- 
abouts during the night and he was arrested and brought to the Franklin 
County jail. 

It was learned that Bryant, who was' about 20 years old, had been 
riding around Saturday night with three other Negroes and that at 
least two houses had been robbed. All three were locked up in jail 
with Bryant, but in separate cells. All told conflicting stories. 

One of the houses broken into was that of J. W. Acre. Nothing was 
missing except all the edibles in the kitchen. The dwelling of Robert 
Wright near Bunn was entered and a pair of trousers containing $20.00 
or $30.00 in money and a watch taken. 

Although the man who entered the Perry home did not harm Mrs. 
Perry, her husband returning very quickly, there was considerable feel- 
ing in the neighborhood which is 18 or 20 miles from Louisburg. 

The following night at 10 minutes before nine o'clock. Sheriff F. W. 
Justice heard that a mob was forming in Bunn's township to come to 
Louisburg and take his prisoner from the Franklin County jail. Before 
nine o'clock the Sheriff had the Negro in an automobile headed for 
Raleigh. Shortly after 10 o'clock he was notified from Raleigh that the 
guard had arrived at the State Prison. 

Five hours after Sheriff Justice had dispatched his officers to Raleigh 
with the prisoner, a mob of 100 men assembled at the jail to take Bryant 
out and lynch him. After surrounding the jail, the mob sent ten of 
their number to the jail to demand the keys. The jailer told them that 
the Negro had been taken to the Penitentiary in Raleigh. They de- 
manded the keys anyhow but the jailer refused to give them up. 

A fire alarm and riot call were turned in and firemen were soon on 
the scene, a truck stopping in front of the jail. The half dozen men 
on it were told by the mob leaders to move on and as they were badly 
outnumbered, and as the mob was in a truculent mood, firing revolvers 
at intervals, the firemen decided it was the better part of valor to 
proceed. 

Deputy Sheriff Fuller and Chief of Police B. H. Meadows finally de- 
cided to go to the scene and notify the mob of the fact that the man 
they wanted was not to be had. They had some difficulty in convincing 
the leaders that they were telling the truth but finally persuaded them 
and the mob broke up. 

It was learned that the members of the local militarj'- unit. Battery 
B of the 113th Field Artillery, had assembled at their armory, and had 
two machine guns ready for action. 

Even had the Negro been in the jail it is believed by the authorities 
that the mob could have been prevented from taking him. 

Early on the following morning a crowd of about 40 masked men 
came to Louisburg about 1:30 o'clock, presumably for a second attempt 
to get possession of Bryant. Their first step was to compel the super- 
intendent of the power plant to cut off all the lights. H. C. Leach, night 
engineer at the plant, saw the crowd coming to the power house, realized 
their purpose and secreted himself. There was apparently no one in 
the crowd familiar with the working of an electric light plant. So after 
a while the crowd went to the home of O. C. Hill, superintendent of 
the waterworks and power plant. They called him out. One of the 
leaders stuck a pistol under his nose and ordered him to go to the 
plant with them. Arriving at the plant they compelled him to throw 
the switches, thus putting the town in darkness. 



Capital Punishment • 57 

They went to the house of Township Constable J. A. Wiggs, who 
was one of the party of officers who accompanied Bryant to Raleigh sev- 
eral nights before. Mrs. Wiggs, when awakened, told the men that 
her husband was not at home but was off on a raid. They refused to 
believe her and went to the garage to see if the constable's car was 
there. It was not. The masked men then left. 

They also visited the home of Deputy Sheriff Fuller who also was 
in the party that took Bryant to Raleigh a few hours before the mob, 100 
strong, came to Louisburg determined to take the Negro out and, no 
doubt, lynch him. No effort was made, however, to arouse the Fuller 
household, the marauders hanging around for a time and then depart- 
ing. Naturally the families of both the officers were considerably fright- 
ened. In the meantime Night Policeman C. E. Pace had aroused Chief 
of Police B. H. Meadows. The two started on a tour of investigation, 
but the mob had driven off when the policemen arrived. 

Constable Wiggs had left Louisburg at 8:30 o'clock for Raleigh to 
get. Bryant and bring him back for a preliminary hearing. When Deputy 
Sheriff Fuller saw that the mob had not given up its purpose to make 
trouble he telephoned the State's Prison with instructions to Wiggs not 
to bring the Negro to Louisburg. The hearing was abandoned and the 
matter left for Grand Jury action at the October term of court. 

A rigid investigation as to the identity of the members of the mob 
was begun and attempt was made to find those persons guilty of acts 
of lawlessness and to mete out punishment to them. The people of 
Louisburg pledged their best efforts to see that the members of the mob 
were identified and brought into court. Great difficulty was experienced 
however, because of the fact that O. C. Hill, the only man who came 
in close touch with the mob, was unable to identify any of them. He 
said they wore masks but no robes. 

Because public feeling was so high in Franklin County as to prevent 
an impartial trial, plans for the preliminary hearing were abandoned 
because of fears for the prisoner's safety and Judge Stack ordered the 
trial transferred to Wake County Superior Court at Raleigh. 

At the trial held in Raleigh, Bryant, who had been twice sought by 
mobs at the Louisburg jail, and who, in the opinion of the authorities, 
is living now solely because he was brought to the State Prison in Raleigh 
for safe-keeping, was found not guilty of the charge of criminal assault, 
the jury bringing in a directed verdict. 

The first breakdown in the State's case came upon the prosecutrix's 
evidence, at the close of which Judge Sinclair directed that the charge 
be changed from that of a capital felony to that of having improper 
relations with a female by impersonating her husband. Complete col- 
lapse of the State's case was registered when attempts to identify a 
cap near the scene as belonging to the defendant failed, and when Judge 
Sinclair ruled out "bloodhound evidence" on the ground that the breed- 
ing of the dogs had not been established and the further ground that 
such evidence is admissible only in corroboration and that the State had 
offered no other evidence of identification. 

"Undoubtedly there has been an outrage committed, but this case 
has reached the point where it can go no further," declared Judge 
Sinclair in announcing his action to the jury. "Evidence of bloodhounds 
is admissible only as corroborative evidence and the State has presented 
no evidence of identification which such evidence could corroborate." 

W. H. Allen, owner of the blood hounds and a former sheriff of the 
county, was detained by sickness, and R. R. Earnhardt, his assistant, 
was unable to establish the pedigree of the dogs. 



58 • Capital Punishment 

Mrs. Perry testified that during the occurrence, which took place in 
her bedroom which was also occupied by her mother and three children, 
one of whom was in bed with her, she thought the intruder was her 
husband, who together with his aunt, was occupying an adjoining room. 

Mrs. Perry said that she did not look up, even when the man hurriedly 
left the bed and the room which was lighted, and that her first inti- 
mation that it was somebody else was when her husband, who had been 
out of the house, called her into his room and asked who had left her 
room. 

At this juncture, Judge Sinclair ordered the charge modified and a 
little later dismissed the case when two Negroes, one of them the brother 
of the defendant refused to identify a cap found on the Perry premises 
as belonging to the defendant. 

Bryant spent his first night of freedom in jail upon the advice of 
his attorney. The following morning he was released in the care of 
the State Board of Public Welfare. 

In view of the fact that in the orderly process of law in 3 5 cases 
of Negroes convicted of rape the Governor extended executive clemency 
to 15 of this number after they had been sentenced to death in the 
electric chair, it is safe to venture the opinion that an equal proportion 
of alleged rapists who have been victims of the mob would not have 
been put to death if they had had a fair legal trial, by which their guilt 
or innocence could have been decided on the merits of the evidence pre- 
sented in a dispassionate, judicial atmosphere. 

Summing up the subject of lynching and mob violence in North Caro- 
lina, it may be said that the State has in large measure, especially in 
recent years, met the challenge presented to the South since the Negro 
was freed from slavery; and that in its battle against lawlessness and 
mob rule North Carolina has set an example for other States in stimulat- 
ing the development of an educated public opinion and a wholesome 
respect for law and order. 



Case Histories 



FOREWORD 



The prisoners whose case histories are presented in the following pages 
do not represent a selected group, except on the basis of conviction for 
capital crime. They are 26 men who have been convicted of capital 
felonies and sentenced to death in North Carolina during the last few 
years, and regarding whom data could be secured. They were not chosen 
to emphasize any special aspect of the infliction of capital punishment, 
nor any special sort of capital offender, but as representing a typical 
group of criminals sentenced to be electrocuted in this State. Except 
in the cases otherwise designated, all these prisoners are at the State 
Prison or the State Prison farms. 

Intelligence tests were given these men by the psychologist connected 
with the State Board of Charities and Public Welfare, or by other repu- 
table psychiatrists. The tests most frequently used were those of the 
Binet-Simon Intelligence Scale as arranged by Lewis M. Terman, pro- 
fessor of education at Leland Stanford University. 

For the benefit of the general reader it should be explained that, 
according to this scale, certain tests for measuring intelligence have been 
formulated, grouped with respect to age. That is, there are tests which 
the average child of, say, six years can answer satisfactorily, which the 
superior child of six can answer much belter, and on which the sub- 
normal child of six fails. The tests run up to the 18-year-old group. 
In this way the mental age of the person tested can be ascertained. The 
intelligence quotient is the ratio which the mental age disclosed by 
the test bears to the chronological age of the person tested. The intelli- 
gent quotient of the normal person is between 90 and 110. 

These tests have been extensively used by psychologists, educators and 
criminologists, and by means of them much illuminating data relative 
to the criminal has recently been obtained. 



CASE A 




Prisoner: White, b. New Yorlt, Aug. 24, 1875 

Charge: First Degree Murder 

Sentence: Death 

New Trial Sentence: Life Imprisonment 

Transferred to State Hospital for the Insane at Raleigh 

Present Location: State Prison 

Mental Diagnosis: Cerebral Arterio-Sclerosis. 



Physical Characteristics: 

The prisoner is five feet, 10 inches in height; weighs 150 pounds; has 
blue eyes, gray hair and a long gray moustache. At present his appear- 
ance is fairly good. He is 53 years old, having been born in New York 
on August 24, 1875. 

Physical examination showed that although the prisoner has been 
poorly nourished, he is well-developed. He has gained -weight since insti- 
tutional care began. His teeth were in poor condition and his mouth 
unhygienic. His Wassermann test was negative. 

Family History: 

He does not know where either his father or his mother were born, 
but says that his father worked in New York as a machinist. His father 
died of "brain fever", but the prisoner does not know the cause of his 
mother's death. He had no brothers, but his three sisters were born 
in New York. One of them committed suicide and the two others died 
of tuberculosis. 

Early Home Conditions: 

The income of his family was so small that it was necessary for the 
prisoner to sell papers from the time he was old enough to do so until 
he reached the age of 12 years. Among the papers which he says he 
has sold are The Neiv York. World, The Herald, and The Jour^ial. 

Education : 

He attended school one year in New York. When he was 12 years 



64 Capital Punishment 

old, the family moved to Philadelphia where he went to school one 
year. He says that he has attended night school some since that time. 

Occupations : 

After his father's death he left home and went to Buffalo, N. Y., 
where he lived with an uncle. He worked there three or four years in 
an iron foundry and then returned to New York City. There he worked 
as brakeman on a railroad until he was injured. Following this, he 
worked as janitor in two apartment houses, and worked for nine months 
on a passenger boat running between Long Branch, N. J., and New York 
City, and then for two seasons on the lake boats with headquarters at 
Buffalo. 

Since he came to North Carolina his work has been mostly with lumber 
companies. In this he appeared to be dependable, was well liked and 
showed no trace of mental disorder. While Postmaster in his town for 
a time, he became short in his accounts. Following this, he shot him- 
self in the lower part of the left chest. 

Marital Record: 

About 18 98 he married a girl 18 years old who had been born in 
England. They had two children, both of whom died in early infancy. 
This wife died in 1910. After her death, he says, he decided to come 
to North Carolina to avoid temptation to drink. He came to a north- 
eastern county in this State where he married again about 1913. By 
this wife he had three girls and two boys, all of whom are living at 
present. 

Habits, Characteristics and Reputation: 

He says that he used alcohol excessively from his early youth until 
he was married the second time in 1912 or 1913. He denies any immoral 
sex relations and also says that he never used drugs. He smokes and 
chews moderately. 

As Deputy Sheriff in the county in which he lived in North Carolina 
he was very active in attempting to suppi'ess liquor traffic, it is said. 
He claims that his second wife worried herself to death because boot- 
leggers were constantly trying to kill him. He was also actively engaged 
in religious affairs, and was for a time a Sunday School teacher. It is 
reported, however, that he continued to drink excessively while engaged 
in these activities. 

Story of the Ci'inie Charged: 

An adopted daughter lived in his home until just prior to the murder 
for which he was convicted. It is understood that she left his home 
and went to live with a near neighbor because of his excessive drinking 
and because he had made improper sex proposals to her. 

Although the examiner was unable to get any information from the 
prisoner regarding the crimes he had committed, it is generally believed 
in the neighborhood that he became enraged because his neighbors, a 
man and his wife, took this girl into their home. After they had done 
so, the prisoner walked over to the neighbor's house, shot and killed 
the man and his wife, and attempted to shoot the girl. 

After the prisoner had been received at the State Prison, and while 
he was waiting to hear from his appeal for a new trial, he attempted 
to commit suicide by setting fire to his bed clothing. His mental con- 
dition grew worse after this, and he was finally granted a new trial. 
He was then sentenced to life imprisonment and placed in the criminal 
insane department of the State Hospital. Recently his condition has 



Capital Punishment 65 

improved so much that he has been returned to the State Prison where 
he is working regularly in the chair factory. 

Mental Condition: 

The following report on the prisoner's mental condition is quoted from 
the record of the State Hospital for the Insane: 

"ATTITUDE AND MANNER: The prisoner appears to be about 55 
years of age and at the time of this examination showed no evidence of un- 
tidiness. He wore prison clothing in such a way as to indicate that he 
exercised reasonable care in adjusting same. Pie was aided to the room 
in which the examination took place from his cell by a fellow prisoner. 
The general appearance of the man suggested that he was in ill health 
and his facial expression denoted marked dejection alternating with looks 
of anxiety; frequently stared into space as if oblivious of the things 
about him. On one occasion during the interview he left his chair and 
assumed a seat on the floor, stating that he did this in order to rest 
better and to relieve the pains which were affecting his legs. On another 
occasion he called for his children and then seemed to make every muscle 
in his body tense. Following this he fell head first out of his chair to 
the floor. As far as could be ascertained no acceleration of pulse oc- 
curred and it is not definitely known whether he became unconscious 
or not. If he did become really unconscious it was transitory and he 
was soon able to regain his seat. He would very frequently lose con- 
trol of himself emotionally and cry, at the same time calling for the 
above-mentioned children. Made no spontaneous complaints or request 
except he stated that he wished to have his children visit him. No 
unusual movements noted apart from the above and no evidence of 
stereotypy. No cerea flesibilitas or negativism but was observed to be 
a little stiff in his movements. It appeared to the examiner that patient 
was unable to get a sufficient grasp of the activities going on about him 
to aid satisfactorily with this interview, although it cannot be said that 
he wilfully tried to hinder the examination. His attitude toward the 
physician was at all times friendly and courteous. 

"CONSCIOUSNESS: Patient recognizes objects which are drawn to his 
attention and no definite consciousness was apparent. He does, how- 
ever, act in a rather retarded manner and his answers to questions to 
determine consciousness were given slowly as if he did not comprehend 
the question or the object asked about. If given a sufficient amount of 
time, he is usually able to execute the test correctly. 

"ORIENTATION: Patient states that his home is in County, 

Carolina; would, not say whether North or South Carolina. He states 
that he is under the impression that he is now in the 'crazy house' 
but has been told that the place in which he is now residing is the State 
Prison. He claims that he does not know the nature of his surroundings. 
Gives the date as 19 26. No other information relative to time elicited. 
He is able to give his own name and that of the prison physician and 
a guard at the prison. Is approximately oriented for person. 

"ATTENTION: It is extremely difficult to gain, hold and direct patient's 
attention. He stirs about the room and takes no particular interest in 
the examination procedure. Although he is not distractable by outside 
influences, he seems mentally preoccupied. It is necessary to stimulate 
him at frequent intervals to get him to answer questions or cooperate 
with the examiner. 

"EMOTIONS: Patient is emotionally unstable. He very frequently 
breaks down and cries when sensitive subjects are approached. His 



66 Capital Punishment 

general appearance has never indicated, since he has been under ob- 
servation, that he has been exhilarated or even cheerful. 

"TRAIN OP THOUGHT: Conversation is extremely slow and is always 
in a whisper. He has no flight of ideas. Answers questions in a relevant 
and coherent manner except when speaking of his delusional and hal- 
lucinatory experiences. Seldom, if ever, has any initiative in conver- 
sation. 

"MEMORY: Patient states that he came from County, but 

does not know how long he has been here. He denies any knowledge of 
what occurred shortly before his admission to the State Prison. His 
attention is called to the fact that he was accused of killing two persons, 
but he stated that he had no recollection of having done this. Although 
the examining physician has seen him on three previous occasions dur- 
ing the week of this examination, he denied that he had ever seen the 
physician before. He stated that he remembered that a blood test had 
been done two or three days ago and knows that this was done in the 
afternoon. His answers to questions asked him to determine his memory 
would surely indicate impairment both as to recent and remote events. As 
to whether this impairment is real or apparent must be determined by 
the findings of the entire examination. 

"GRASP OF GENERAL AND SCHOOL KNOWLEDGE: Patient made 
several mistakes in the 7 from 100 test. States that 2x12 = 24; 7 from 
100 = 90; 7 + 100 = 97; 5 x 12 = 50 or 55; 12 + 11 = 23. Gave the 
capital of New York as Buffalo. Capital of United States, Washington. 
Capital of North Carolina, Halifax. State to the north of North Carolina, 
Virginia; named Ontario and Erie as two great lakes. Gave the date of 
the Civil War 1865. Gave the names of Lee and Sheridan as ones who 
took part in the Civil War. First President of United States, Washing- 
ton; President of the United States at the present time, Wilson; Gov- 
ernor of North Carolina, Morrison. Did not know the names of the 
Senator from New York or North Carolina. Did not know the longest 
river in the United States. 

"DELUSIONS: The following ideas expressed by the prisoner, if gen- 
uine, could be classed under the heading of delusions. He stated that 
he had been fighting the illicit liquor ring in Halifax County for the 
past five or six years and that on four or five occasions he had been 
shot and wounded by its members. He states that they are indirectly 
responsible for the death of his wife who became v/orried over his wel- 
fare because of the fear that the bootleggers would do him some harm. 
He states that they burned his house and stole his children. He also 
contends that they have in the past sent him threatening letters and he 
also feels that they had him sent to his present place of incarceration. 
According to his statements, it is his opinion that they are desirous of 
getting him out of the way in order that they could be free to carry 
on their illegal traffic in liquor. He explained to the examiner that 
these persecutors had followed him to the place in which he is now re- 
siding and are continuing their persecution. 

"HALLUCINATIONS: The prisoner states that about ten years ago 
that he heard the voice of God who directed him to live a better life and to 
become affiliated with the church, which patient did. Has had communi- 
cations with God at intervals ever since this time. He states that the 
liquor dealers of County, who are responsible for his in- 
carceration, come to his room practically every night where they threaten 
and abuse him. He also claims that his children visit him and that he 
can hear their voices in the neighborhood of his cot. Has never seen his 
children, but claims to have seen the bootleggers. 



Capital Punishment 67 

"JUDGMENT: Patient's answers to questions asked him to determine 
his judgment would naturally lead one to think that his reasoning powers 
are impaired. He claims to be unable to arrive at a conclusion as to 
the nature of his surroundings after being able to recognize cells, barred 
doors and the usual equipment of a prison. States that all of this has 
no meaning at all to him except probably to suggest a place for the 
care of the insane. When asked the day of the week, he readily stated 
that it was a week-day and that he knew because men about the place 
were busily engaged in work; says that it is unusual to see anyone at 
labor on the Sabbath. He claims to have no knowledge of the nature 
of his surroundings; in fact, told the examiner that he had seen a con- 
siderable number of insane patients about the building. 

"INSIGHT: The prisoner denies that there is anything wrong with him 
mentally. 

"DIFFERENTIAL DIAGNOSIS: There are three conditions which 
stand out prominently in the case of ^his patient, and are as follows: First, 
Involutional Melancholia. Second, Cerebral Arterio-Sclerosis, and third, 
Senile Psychosis. It is generally considered that Cerebral Arterio-Sclerosis 
is the intervening link between Involutional Melancholia and Senile Psy- 
chosis and, therefore, it is to be expected that the symptomatology of 
their diseases are to be found more or less interwoven. In his case it 
really reduces itself to the problem of selecting the predominance of 
symptoms. In either case in addition to the mental manifestations 
present, there are to be expected certain physical signs. The majority 
of the organic symptoms which he has indicated an arterial disease and 
with his mental disturbance they together point to some cerebral vascular 
changes. It is unnecessary to enumerate the various symptoms given 
above; suffice it to say the examiner is of the opinion that the prisoner 
is suffering from Cerebral Arterio-Sclerosis and the disease of neces- 
sity has had a long prodromal period. This diagnosis answers the legal 
question envolved. 

"DIAGNOSIS: Cerebral Arterio-Sclerosis". 



CASE B 




Prisoner: White, b. Eastern N. C, Oct. 1878 

Charge: First Degree Murder 

Sentence: Death 

New Trial Granted by Supreme Court 

Charge: Second Degree Murder 

Sentence: Imprisonment for 30 Years 

Mental Diagnosis: Feebleminded. 



Physical Characteristics: 

The prisoner is rather short and stocky, only five feet, four and a half 
inches in height, weighing 162 pounds. He has a heavy growth of 
brown hair, an almost square face and brown eyes. His left eyelid droops. 
He has a history of gonorrhea. He is 50 years old, having been born 
in an Eastern North Carolina county in October, 18 78. 

Family History: 

His father and mother and his paternal grandfather were born and 
lived in the county in which the prisoner was born. He said that he 
thought that his father died of paralysis and that his mother died of 
asthma. His father had four brothers and three sisters. One of the 
brothers was a heavy drinker. One brother and two sisters died of 
paralysis, and another brother, it was thought, died after having his 
throat cut. His mother had four brothers, two of whom died of asthma 
and another of whom was an epileptic. 

The prisoner had four sisters and one brother. One married brother 
and two single sisters live in the home county at the present time. An- 
other sister married into a very respectable family in a nearby city and 
another married sister died in childbirth in Florida about 1917. 

Education : 

The prisoner says that he went to school only about three weeks. 

Occupation : 

Ever since he left school, for about 30 years, he had farmed on land 



Capital Punishment 69 

which belonged to his parents, going frequently to the little county seat 
not far away. 

Marital Record: 

He has never married, but has been very promiscuous in his relations 
with women. 

Habits, Characteristics and Reputation: 

He was well known at the county seat and in the rural community. 
He always appeared to be pleasant and was regarded as being a sort 
of harmless half-wit. His rating in the State Prison is Class B. 

Story of the Crime Charged: 

At the time of the crime the prisoner was living at the home place 
with his two unmarried sisters. Ill feeling had arisen between him 
and a neighbor over the location of a road. It is claimed that the pris- 
oner shot the other man after he had been threatened by him. He was 
charged with and tried for first degree murder, and was sentenced to 
be electrocuted and spent some time on death row at the State Prison. 
However, a new trial was obtained on account of the prisoner's mental 
condition, in view of the fact that the jury had rendered a verdict of 
guilty with a recommendation of mercy. At the second trial he was 
tried for second degree murder and was sentenced to 30 years in the 
State Prison. 

Mental Condition: 

The examiner who recently studied the prisoner made the following 
statement: 

"It was impossible to give this case a complete Terman examination 
because of the uncooperative attitude. There was no antagonism on 
the part of the subject, but a complete lack of interest in the proceed- 
ings and an unwillingness to make an effort. In all the few responses 
that we were able to secure, as well as in the conversation, which was 
quite free, there was a remarkable lack of emotional tone and absence 
of modification or inflection of the voice. It is possible, of course, that 
the mental condition of the case may be the result of deterioration. 
However, the general picture presented seems to indicate rather a simple 
condition of feeble-mindedness. 

"Of the tests to which we were able to secure responses adequate 
for scoring there was failure in the repetition of four digits at the four 
year level; inability to name the colors blue and green at the five year 
level; failure of two out of three of the comprehension tests at the six 
year level; but passage of the right and left test and the coin test at 
the same level; passage of the fingers test at the seven year level; failure 
of the counting test at the eight year level; but passage of the compre- 
hension, similarities and definitions test at the eight year level; passage 
of the change and date tests at the nine year level; failure of the com- 
prehension test at the 10 year level; and of the similarities test at the 
12 year level." 



CASE C 




Prisoner: White, b. near Va.-Ca. line, Aug. 20, 1871. 

Charge: First Degree Murder 

Sentence: Death 

Sentence Commuted to Life Imprisonment • 

Present Location: State Hospital for the Insane at Raleigh 

Mental Diagnosis: Manic-Depressive Psychosis. 



Physical Characteristics: 

The prisoner is six feet, one inch in height; weighs 147 pounds, carries 
his head erect; has round shoulders, high forehead, prominent nose and 
chin, light brown hair and blue eyes. He is 57 years of age, having 
been born in a Piedmont county of North Carolina near the Virginia 
line on August 20th, 1871. 

The general physical condition of the prisoner is good at present. He 
gives a history of pellagra and gonorrhea and the usual diseases in child- 
hood, some rheumatism and fainting spells in childhood. He has had 
occasional vertigo, especially since his mental trouble began. He also 
tells of a burning sensation which felt like electric shocks. In an attempt 
to relieve this he used to put wet towels on his back. 

His poor health at the time of the murder he thought was due to the 
fact that he had had malaria in Cuba while serving as a soldier during 
the Spanish-American War. Because of this he continues to draw a 
pension from the Federal government. 

Family History: 

His father was born in Virginia and his mother in North Carolina 
where his parents lived at the time the prisoner was born. Both parents 
are now dead. The mother died in labor and the father died of menin- 
gitis when the prisoner was 14 years old. One sister died of tubercu- 
losis, another died of scarlet fever at the age of six, and one brother 
and one sister are now living. 

An aunt, although never confined in an institution, was temporarily 
insane. There was no epilepsy and very little alcoholism in the family. 



Capital Punishment 71 

Occupations : 

At the age of 17, the prisoner went to work on the railroad in order 
to keep his sisters and brother in school. He says that he had the 
responsibility of these children for several years. 

He served as a soldier in the Spanish-American War, and after this 
worked in the Northern states for a time. Later he worked in the Naval 
Observatory in Washington. ^ 

His most recent occupation was as insurance agent in a Virginia city. 
When he first went there it seems that he was in fairly good circum- 
stances. Prior to this he had been engaged in various kinds of mercan- 
tile business. His employment as insurance agent had just ended when 
he shot his wife. 

He changed jobs frequently and in at least two instances his employer 
let him go because he talked so much about his domestic troubles. 

Marital Record: 

He married his first wife when he was working in Washington. After 
that they lived in New Hampshire for a time, and then came back to 
Washington where his wife died of acute nephritis. By her he had four 
boys and one girl. He managed to keep his children together, and later 
came to Virginia. He then married a woman who grew up in the same 
community in North Carolina in which he had been born. At the time 
of this marriage he was 41 years old, while his wife was only 21. He 
says that he knew his second wife as a little girl, and that he had known 
her people all his life. By her he had three girls. 

Soon after his second marriage, a son to whom he was very much 
attached died. After this he moved to another place in Virginia, near 
the North Carolina line where he was living when he shot his wife at 
her former home in North Carolina, and where his domestic troubles seem 
to have started. After the death of his son his wife left him, and 
wrote to the secretary of a lodge of which he was a member saying 
that her husband was not taking care of her financially. He says that 
his wife left him frequently without giving any reason — merely saying 
that she was going home. Her mother and sisters were constantly trying 
to persuade her to come home, according to the prisoner. 

Habits, Charactei'istics and Reputation: 

Although he is rather a pleasant conversationalist, all available in- 
formation seems to show that the prisoner has for years been a manic- 
depresseive personality and that his condition probably was aggravated 
by a series of unfortunate events: the death of his first wife; the death 
of his son; and the fact that his second wife had left him several times, 
taking the children with her. In addition to this he had received an 
insulting letter from his brother-in-law, hinting that he had been having 
relations with the prisoner's wife who was then staying at the home 
of her parents. The prisoner brooded on this for three years, and prob- 
ably went to his wife's home to kill the brother-in-law. 

A doctor who for more than five years had been the prisoner's family 
physician in the Virginia city in which he lived says: 

"During this period of time I was frequently in the prisoner's home 
professionally and saw him at other frequent intervals. Soon after I 
met him he lost a son, which was a great shock to him, and from which 
he never seemed to recover so far as his general mental equilibrium was 
concerned. He had many financial reverses after I knew him, but always 
made an honest effort to meet his obligations. . . . He impressed me as 
being physically weak, high-strung, temperamental, honest, conscientious, 
and, I may say, a religious fanatic." 



72 Capital Punishment 

From another source it was reported that when his child died, he 
became very morbid and depressed and threatened to do violence to 
the physician. 

In talking about his mental trouble, the prisoner states that he has 
had several attacks of mental derangement, but that the events which 
took place at those times are rather hazy in his mind. However, he 
does remember a few incidents very clearly relating to the cause of the 
murder. 

Soon after the commutation of his sentence for murder he had another 
attack of insanity in the State Prison and was transferred to the State 
Hospital for the Insane at Raleigh. During these attacks, he says, he 
felt as if he were being shocked by electricity. He could see Christ and 
His angels in his room and he could look out of the windows and see 
thousands of people. He heard voices saying that they were going to 
kill him. 

Since his admission to the State Hospital he has had other attacks. 
At the time he was admitted he was so depressed that he remained in 
bed for several weeks. At present he is quiet and well-behaved, and 
is not depressed or seclusive or abnormally talkative. 

The prisoner says that he holds no ill-feeling toward anyone — that he 
feels better than he had in many years, and that he is no longer de- 
pressed because he has come to the realization that life is a mental prob- 
lem. He says that he has given his life to God and that instead of 
becoming depressed about his own troubles he now does his best to 
get others to see life as he sees it. He does not feel that his freedom 
is restricted although he is in prison, as he feels that his mental attitude 
has now made him absolutely free. He writes his children that he hopes 
they feel as free as he does. 

His children who are old enough write to him, and he thinks they all 
have a great deal of affection for him. Two of them come to see him 
frequently. 

Story of the Crime Charged: 

The prisoner says that he received a very insulting letter from his 
brother-in-law, stating that the prisoner's wife, who was away from her 
husband at the time, was having improper relations with him (the brother- 
in-law). This letter, copied from the court record, is as follows: 

" , N. C, July 14/21. 

"Mr. Yellow Bat Hound: 

"Dear Sir: If you had as many guts as a snake you wood come over 
and show your ball head. I hope to see you real soon. I sure do enjoy 
your wife being with us and if you can help yourself, come over and 
do it. You haven't got ther nerve, have you, Red Head. Now, if I 
have wrote something you do not like, come and bring it to me and we 
will straten it up. 

"Rsp, 

(Signature) 

"P.S. — Good-by till I see you Pat, Ha Ha; can you help you self." 

The murder took place three years after this letter was received. 
The prisoner says that Avhen he got it, his first impulse was to kill his 
brother-in-law and he Avent so far as to purchase a revolver; that he 
thought and prayed about the matter and tried to avoid temptation, but 
worried for three years about the letter and what he should do about it. 

When the shooting occurred, his wife had left him and had gone with 
the children to her home where the brother-in-law and his wife also 
were living. One day he went to his wife's home to see her and the 



Capital Punishment 73 

children. He says that his brother-in-law attacked him that afternoon. 
On the night of the same day the murder was committed; and although 
the prisoner does not remember much about the incident, he says that 
he believes he started shooting at the brother-in-law, and hit his wife 
who was in direct line of fire. She died almost immediately. The brother- 
in-law and his wife also were wounded. 

He was sentenced to be electrocuted, but on the day before the date 
set for the electrocution his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. 

Recommendation of Commutation: 

In recommending that his sentence be commuted to life imprisonment, 
the trial Judge wrote in part as follows: 

"I observed the defendant closely. He impressed me as a man of a 
highly nervous disposition, one who had possessed more than average 
intelligence, but his attitude was that either of one who had committed 
a crime for which there was no remorse of conscience or regret for con- 
sequences, or as one who did not realize fully the gravity of the sit- 
uation. 

"From the evidence developed, the defendant prior to his act had 
received in due course of mail a letter purporting to have been written 
by his brother-in-law, and which unquestionably the defendant thought 
was written by him, although the authorship thereof was denied. The 
contents of this letter were such as would arouse animosity against the 
brother-in-law and the jury might have adopted the contention of the 
defendant that his purpose in visiting the scene of the tragedy was to 
take revenge upon his brother-in-law for a supposed breach of morality 
upon his part, which in my opinion, from the evidence, did not occur, 
but which the defendant evidently thought had, and that acting under 
such suggestion his possible purpose was to take the life of the brother- 
in-law alone, but when finding the brother-in-law and the wife and 
others together, sudden passion was aroused as toward the deceased, 
and acting thereon he took her life, which might have meant murder 
in the second degree". 

Symptoms of the Manlc-Depressive : 

The following description of the manic-depressive personality, such 
as the prisoner, is taken from Abnormal Behavior by Irvin J. Sands and 
Phyllis Blanchard. 

This type of personality "is subject to marked fluctuations of mood. 
It swings in alternate cycles of elation and depression. In the elated 
mood the person is talkative, facetious, restless, over-active, impatient and 
perhaps a trifle boisterous. The opposite phase is one of sadness or 
depression, in which the patient is quiet, retarded in thought and move- 
ment, is oppressed by a feeling of sorrow and even of guilt, blaming him- 
self for all sorts of acts which were in reality innocent enough in their 
intent, and at times inclined to be morose or tearful. The Manic-Depressive 
temperament is also inclined to irritability and uncertain temper. 

"Whenever any situation arises which requires considerable tact, judg- 
ment, and increased capacity for adjustment, an attack of psychosis may 
result. . . . Diminished physical endurance following illness, business 
troubles, unhappy family incidents and at times an unexpected happy 
occurrence may precipitate an attack." 

The usual types of this psychosis are the manic phase, the depressed 
phase and the mixed phase. 

In the manic phase, the patient "lacks control of his instinctive re- 



74 Capital Punishment 

actions, which results frequently in many anti-social acts such as sexual 
indiscretions, assault, minor crimes and misdemeanors." 

In the depressed phase, suicide is the most serious danger, "and suicidal 
attempts are very common. Occasionally, because of the gloomy atti- 
tude these individuals have toward the world in general, they inflict 
serious injuries upon members of their immediate family in their at- 
tempts to relieve them from their imaginary troubles." 

In the mixed phase there is "a combination of the symptoms exhibited 
in the manic and in the depressive phases. In this condition one must 
guard against homicide". 



CASE D 




Prisoner: White, b. Georgia, 1873 
Charge: First Degree Murder 
Sentence: Death 

Sentence Commuted to Life Imprisonment 
Present Location: State Prison Farm 

Mental Diagnosis: Definite Psychosis, Probably Paranoid 
Dementia Praecox. 



Physical Characteristics : 

The prisoner is a man of medium build, five feet, eight inches in 
height, and weighing 170 pounds. He has blue eyes, mixed gray hair 
and a short moustache. His face presents a rather wild and dissipated 
appearance. He is 55 years of age, having been born in Georgia in 
1873. 

His mother states that he was small and very "puny" until he was 
17 years old, and that he had some sort of "spells". 

Family History: 

He seems to know nothing of his paternal grandparents, but states 
that his maternal grandparents were born in South Carolina. It is not 
known whether or not there were any abnormalities in his grandparents 
or parents. His father, who was born in Georgia, died of pneumonia 
about 1892 in Texas. His mother, who was born in South Carolina, is 
now living in the town in which the crime was committed. 

The prisoner had three brothers and two sisters. One sister died 
when she was 18 months old, and the other died at the age of six years. 
Two brothers died in infancy, and one who is about 30 years old now 
lives in the town where the crime was committed. 

Education : 

The prisoner had gone to school only a little in the South Carolina 
community in which he grew up, and has practically no education. 



76 Capital Punishment 

Occupation : 

At the time the murder was committed, the prisoner was employed 
as a laborer around a mill in the Southern Piedmont section of North 
Carolina to which he had moved from South Carolina. 

Marital Record: 

In July, 1915, the prisoner married a woman 23 years old who, 
he says, had been sexually promiscuous like himself, with whom he had 
had relations, and whom he had promised to marry if she became preg- 
nant. When she did so he kept his promise. They have a son, born 
December 3, 1925. The prisoner is not certain where his wife and 
child are living at present. He says that his wife was untrue to him 
and had relations with the co-defendant in his trial. 

Habits, Characteristics and Reputation: 

The mother of the prisoner says that he was easily influenced and 
many people of his community thought him to be of low mentality. His 
employer at the mill says of him: 

"He was connected with a family that had been recommended to me 
as being trained hosiery mill help. I hired the family, a combination 
of brothers, sisters and first cousins, about five or six in all, and very 
quickly found that the whole family from both a moral and intellectual 
standpoint were of too low order to fit into our mill village and village 
life, so I put them out of our village and out of employment in the 
mill all excepting the prisoner whom I regarded as an inoffensive 'nut', 
using him for an ordinary laborer." 

This employer who knew the prisoner well gave the following descrip- 
tion of his behavior while he was working for him: 

"At times I have found him in very depressed spirits, standing around 
talking to himself and crying, with tears fiowing down his cheeks. 

"At other times I have found him in a very nilarious condition and 
just as excited over some imaginary pleasantness as he had been over 
some imaginary wrong". 

At the time of the examination the prisoner had given no trouble 
and was in Grade B. 

Story of the Crime Charged: 

The murder, for which the prisoner was tried and convicted in March, 
1926, was committed on October 30, 1925. According to the evidence 
offered by the State, the body of a man was found in a barn with the 
head, feet and arms cut off. The body was about the size of B, a resi- 
dent of the county who had disappeared, and while the identity was not 
apparent, the body could be identified as the body of a white man. 

Prior to the trial, the prisoner made two sworn statements to a de- 
tective regarding the crime. These statements were as follows: 

No. 1. "Defendant being duly sworn, says, 'On the night of the 
30th day of October, 1925, A and me started opossum hunting toward 
Opossum Ridge and when we got near the barn that was burned we 
heard somebody laughing and talking and we went to see who it was 
and we found B there by himself and he was pretty drunk. A took a 
drink with him and B tried to make me drink and I would not drink 
and he said he would make me, and I dashed around A and when I 
did A hit him and when he did B fell and I said, "You have killed him." 
I said, "I wonder if he is dead," and I hit him with a little stick to 
see If he was dead. He did not move and A said, "We haven't half 
killed him yet," and A went to the car and got a knife and saw and 
sawed off one of his feet and then he sawed off the other leg. And 



Capital Punishment 77 

then he sawed off his arms; then he told me to hold his head, he was 
going to cut his head off and unjoint it. And I held his head and A 
cut his head off with the knife. 

" 'Then he took a piece of burlap sack and tied up his head, feet and 
hands in it and we took it to near C's place or farm and put them under 
some rock in a briar patch, and he left them there for three or four 
days and then he wrapped them in a piece of new sacking and came 
to me and told me where they were, and the first cold rainy day in 
November I took them and went to the school building where my brother 
was firing for the school, and I went in at the back door of the base- 
ment and he was upstairs and I cut the sack open and threw them 
back in the furnace and stirred them up in the coals, and I went up 
and called brother and he said, "I am busy now I will be down after 
a little while," and he told me to shovel some coal in the furnace. 

" 'I went back and waited for about a half hour or more and he 
did not come and I went out at the same door I went in at and started 
to go on by his house and I met him about half way between the old 
and the new school buildings. He asked me where I had started and 
I said I was going on to his house and see how my mother was. He 
did not know what I had done. He said it was about dinner time and 
I went to his house and eat dinner and went on home. 

" 'In three or four days later I went back over to the school build- 
ing and went by the ashes that had been taken from the furnace and 
could not find any bones in them, and I stayed over there that evening 
and helped brother sweep out the buildings and clean up around the 
school. After we cut B up we took him and put him in the barn and 
A told me to watch for him while he packed him away in the barn. He 
put him up on a box and covered him with corn tops and straw. 

" 'We found a quart bottle that had had whiskey in it and a pint bot- 
tle with some whiskey in it. All of the killing and cutting the body 
of B was done between eight and 10 o'clock on the night of October 
30, 1925. From what I could see, I think A searched over his body 
while he was covering B up. He then pushed the piece of tin back 
down that we pulled off to put him in. Then on Saturday evening, 
October 31, 1926, about 5:30 o'clock, A said to me "Let's go and 
get some liquor." And I went with him and we went up to the old 
barn. He said, "Do you want some?" And I told him I might later 
on. He went to the barn and pulled up the same piece of tin and 
reached in and pulled out something from the left hand side and put 
in his overcoat pocket, and then reached to the right hand side and 
got something and put in his overcoat pocket. I said, "Are you ready?" 
He said, "All but lighting my cigarette." And he struck a match and 
lit the cigarette and threw the match down on the straw and it begun 
to burn the straw and I said, "Are you going to let it burn?" And 
he said, "Let her go." 

" 'And we left and went over to the Southern Railroad and come down 
the railroad to the culvert and we saw some people coming and we 
turned down from the railroad to near the creek to keep from meet- 
ing anyone, when we got back to the mill houses we saw nobody ahead 
of us and we got back on the railroad track and come on down to 
near the lock switch where the Southbound and the Southern railroads 
cross. And A went on the street leading out by D's store and I come 
on to brother's and found nobody at home. I then come on up town 
and bought some packages and went on home. On Sunday evening, 
the first day of November, 1925, I went home with my mother to my 
brother's and at this time I think it was I gave my brother $125.00, 



78 Capital Punishment 

that I had worked for the company and made and asked him to keep 
it for me. A said since he killed him he wanted his money and his 
liquor too if he had any.' " 

No. 2. "Defendant, being duly sworn says on night of 30th day of 
October, 1925, he had been to a store and B (the deceased) spoke to 
him and he invited him home with him but he said he was going to 
see his people and get some whiskey. But he went to A's and he 
later went over there and B was at A's house about drunk, and A 
struck B in the head with a machine hammer and told him (the de- 
fendant) if he opened his mouth he would kill him and throw him in 
the closet. And in a few minutes he took him to the kitchen pantry 
and about 12:00 or 1:00 o'clock he took his knife and saw and cut 
B's feet, arms and head off and put them in a piece of tow sack and he, 
A, then took the body and made the defendant help carry it to the old 
barn. 

"He (the defendant) then went home and stayed at home until the 
next evening he went to the store, and saw B and he asked him to go 
with him, and they went to the barn and got something and put in 
his coat pocket, and he struck a match to light a cigarette and threw 
the lighted match in the straw and would not let him put it out, and 
again told him if he ever told on him he would kill him. And on 
Sunday, November 1, 1925, the defendant gave his brother $125.00 
and told him to take care of it for him. He does not know what he 
did with the arms, feet and head, never saw them any more after 
that night." 

Largely upon this evidence and that given by the co-defendant who 
submitted to a charge of second degree murder, the prisoner was promptly 
convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to die, while the co- 
defendant was sentenced for second degree murder. 

In his charge to the jury the trial Judge particularly emphasized the 
necessity for the presence of premeditation and deliberation on the 
part of the criminal in a verdict of first degree murder. 

Counsel appointed by the court for the prisoner appealed as a pauper 
to the Supreme Court for a new trial, on the ground that the evidence 
was not sufficient to convict. A new trial was denied. 

Commutation of Sentence: 

Later it developed that many people of his community regarded the 
prisoner as being too low mentally to plan and carry out such a mur- 
der. In recommendations for commutation of the prisoner's sentence, 
the co-defendant was repeatedly referred to as "the brains" of the 
crime. The Judge, the Solicitor and the members of the jury all recom- 
mended that the prisoner's sentence be commuted. Accordingly, his 
sentence was commuted to life imprisonment on December 9, 19 26, and 
he started serving sentence on that date. 

Mental Condition: 

A subsequent examination of the prisoner's mental condition was 
made and the examiner found that there was a definite psychosis which 
was "probably paranoid dementia praecox". The examiner stated: 

"It is impossible to make any diagnosis as to definite form of psy- 
chosis on the basis of the examination given. There is no doubt, how- 
ever, that a definite psychosis does exist, and there is considerable evi- 
dence pointing to the presence of well established active hallucinations, 
both of the visual and auditory types. 

"The prisoner states that God first commenced coming to him about 
10 years ago but that previous to that time, about 28 years ago, he 



Capital Punishment 79 

was in love with a girl. This girl was very sick and when about to 
die sent for him and made him promise not to drink, fight, or gamble. 
These were all things that he had been doing rather excessively. After 
her death she followed him for two years and, whenever he did any 
of these things, which he had promised not to do, she would appear 
before him and he would find that it was impossible after her appear- 
ance for him to speak or move until some one spoke to him. 

"God now appears to him frequently. He says that He appeared to 
him night before last (that is, two nights before the date of the examin- 
ation). At that time He told him just to pray on. 'He said, "I have 
heard your prayers. I will make an escape." I could see Him stand- 
ing there bright and like an angel.' 

"Asked if God gave him directions to kill somebody, would he do 
it, he said that he would have to think about that, but Avhen pressed 
for an answer said that he guessed he would have to. 

"There is also some evidence of the presence of delusions of grandeur. 
Although the prisoner cannot read, yet when he takes the Bible and 
looks at it God 'gives it to him directly.' He does not realize, even 
when the question is definitely raised for him, that his knowledge of 
the Bible has come through what he has heard others read and preach, 
but feels that he is given it by God beeause of his earnest desire for it. 

"The prisoner is quite frank about his sexual promiscuity and when 
asked how he can do such things and still be a Christian, he says 
that the Bible says that man was made for God's glory and woman 
was made for man's glory and 'that is the only glory I had.' He sees 
absolutely nothing wrong or incompatible in his claiming to be especially 
favored of God and his grossly immoral conduct. 

"The prisoner claims that he married his wife, who, he says, had 
been sexually promiscuous, because he had promised to if he got her 
in trouble. So, when she became pregnant he married her. He thinks 
that his wife was later untrue to him and got the co-defendant in 
the trial to come and room in their home. He says that he saw them 
have intei-course but did nothing about it because he had moved his 
family to South Carolina and needed to make enough money to pay 
for that and to give him a chance to get away from his wife. He says 
that on the morning of February 8, 1826, he found himself in prison; 
that he had no recollection between six o'clock the previous night and 
three o'clock that morning, and he believes that his wife and the co- 
defendant poisoned him." 



CASE E 




Prisoner: White, b. Wilkes County, N. C, May 9, 1895 
Charge: First Degree Murder 

Sentence: 20 to 30 Years, Second Degree Murder 
Present Location: State Prison, Solitary Confinement 
Mental Diagnosis: Chronological Age: 3 3 Years 

Mental Age: 10 Years, 4 Months 
Intelligence Quotient: 65. 



Physical Characteristics: ^ 

The prisoner is five feet, 11 inches in height, and weighs about 160 
pounds. His left arm was amputated at the wrist because the hand was 
hurt in a railroad accident. In this accident his left foot also was crushed 
and the arch somewhat deformed. He is 33 years old, having been born 
in Wilkes County, N. C, on May 9, 1895. 

He is rather pale, but his general appearance is that of a neat, healthy, 
rather well-built man. His posture is good. His fine hair is rather 
dry, his eyes prominent and large with sclera showing underneath the 
iris when he looks forward. His pupils do not react to light, but react 
properly to accommodation. His eye movements are good. Both knee 
jerks are absent even on reinforcement. There is a slight uneasiness of 
gait. He claims to have some sharp pains in the right side and over 
the heart at times. There is a slight tendency toward paretic speech. 
Wassermann tests taken in other institutions are said to be negative. 
(See concluding remarks.) 

Up to the time of his railroad accident, as far as he knows, he "was 
never sick a day in my life". Since the accident he has been well until 
recently when he says he has felt the confinement of the prison, being 
nervous and excited, having pains in his chest and very frequent bleeding 
from the nose. 

Fanilly History: 

His paternal grandparents were born in the county of his birth. They 
never got into any trouble. Neither did their children, the prisoner's 



Capital Punishment 81 

father and his father's three brothers and one sister. There was nothing 
peculiar or abnormal about any of them, as far as is known. 

His maternal grandparents, of Dutch extraction, were residents of 
North Carolina for years, but it is uncertain whether they were born 
in this State, although the probability is that they were. Nothing ab- 
normal is known of them. They had four daughters and two sons who 
apparently were normal. All were farmers except one who was in the 
nardware business. 

All of the prisoner's grandparents are dead, his maternal grandmother 
having died of cancer. 

The prisoner's mother was born in a mountain county of North Caro- 
lina, and is still alive and well. His father also was born in this State 
and was about 45 years old when he died of typhoid fever. 

The prisoner is the third child in the family, and apparently had a 
normal birth. There were three boys and two girls. One brother died 
of influenza. Another brother is in business in a nearby city, and a 
third, who is living in West Virginia, is married and supporting his 
family. Both sisters are married, and one of them has two children. 
Both sisters are well. 

As far as the prisoner knows, none of his first cousins have gotten 
into trouble, although the first cousins on his father's side were thought 
to be high-tempered and high-strung. 

There is no epilepsy, tuberculosis, or serious alcoholism in the family, 
nor were there any deformed or feeble-minded children. The members 
of the family were hard-working people none of whom were distinguished 
in any way. 

Early Home Conditions: 

The prisoner's father and mother, who were in fairly good circum- 
stances, lived on a farm where he lived until he was eight years old. 
He states that his father died when he was very young, and about a 
year afterwards his mother "took up" with a married man, by whom 
she had two illegitimate children. He claims that he and the younger 
children were neglected and allowed to run wild and do what they 
chose. Still, he has always had love for his mother, and since she has 
grown older, he has protected her and provided for her when he could. 
He says that he feels no resentment toward her. 

When he was eight years old he went to West Virginia where he 
stayed part of the time with an uncle and part with a family notorious 
for feuds. He helped these mountaineers make whiskey, going back 
and forth from their place to his uncle's home. While he was in West 
Virginia he went to school irregularly, reaching the sixth grade, but 
he learned how to gamble and shoot a gun. The mountaineers' stories 
of adventure and their feuds excited his imagination. Several times he 
carried ammunition or guns and was present when feuds were active. 
He enjoyed excitement and adventure and as a child never showed per- 
sonal fear. He became rather the pet of these mountaineers. 

At the age of 13 he went back home, but wanted to leave. However, 
his mother wished him to stay, and notified the railroad authorities not 
to take him when he applied for a job as call boy. He attempted to 
get away from home on a bicycle which he had stolen, but was arrested 
before he had gone far, and was tried, reprimanded and sent back home. 

As a boy he was never much of a reader, although he preferred Western 
stories. He lived out-of-doors, playing ball and boxing, and was sociable 
with other children of both sexes. He also liked rambling by himself 
in the woods, examining reptiles, birds' nests and wild flowers. He was 
not fond of movies or shows and danced only moderately. He liked 



82 Capital Punishment 

music and played on the violin, banjo and other instruments, but never 
had any musical training. He was fond of hunting, but not fishing. 

Education : 

The prisoner started to school when he was about seven years old, 
and went irregularly until he was about 15, having had altogether only 
about three years of schooling. He frequently played truant, but never 
had any trouble with the teachers or with the other school children. 
He thinks that, all things considered, he did fairly well in his classes. 
Once he hit a male teacher on the head with a slate for severely pun- 
ishing his younger brother. 

Occupations : 

He worked as call boy and fireman on the railroad for six years, stop- 
ping because of the accident in which he lost his left hand. His salary 
for his railroad work was from $125.00 to $150.00 a month. His only 
other occupation has been rum-running for periods of a few months 
at a time. He says that he has made as much as $3,600.00 a week for 
himself by hauling whiskey. Most of this money was made in the 
winter. 

He has had considerable money at times and was a free spender. He 
got about $7,000.00 from his accident. He showed marked wanderlust, 
and took about eight trips from coast to coast, usually in an automobile 
and sometimes carrying members of his family. Sometimes he travelled in 
style and comfort, stopping at first-class hotels and spending, on an 
average, $40.00 a day. At other times, as a fugitive from justice, he 
beat his way as best he could, although he never really hoboed or asso- 
ciated with tramps. 

He says that he bought and paid for a home in West Virginia for his 
mother which cost $9,000.00. He has never carried .regular life insur- 
ance, and has not saved anything. At his last trial he did not have 
even money enough to pay his lawyer, as he had just come from a 
Western trip on which he had spent all he had. 

Previous Arrests: 

The prisoner's first offense was stealing a bicycle when he was 13 
years old. For this he was arrested, reprimanded and sent home. His 
second offense was breaking into a hardware store and stealing some 
knives when he was 14 years old. For this he was sentenced to serve 
six months on the chaingang in an adjoining county, but because he 
was so young he was sent home. 

When he was 19 years old he served his first prison sentence for 
seduction in the Virginia Penitentiary. He served his second, for two 
years, in the Tennessee State Prison for stealing an automobile. At the 
trial at which he was convicted of this he was also charged with shoot- 
ing two Negro men, but was acquitted. His third incarceration was 
in the West Virginia State Prison for selling an automobile before he 
had paid for it; and his last is for murder in North Carolina. 

He has made nine escapes from State prisons, all since he lost his 
left hand. He escaped from the Virginia Penitentiary, was out for 
about a year, was recaptured and taken back, and escaped again. He 
went to Tennessee where he was convicted of stealing an automobile 
and sent to the Tennessee State Prison. In two months he escaped from 
there, but was captured in North Carolina and taken back. In 12 months 
he escaped again, and went to West Virginia where he was arrested on 
an old charge of selling an automobile before he had paid for it. Sen- 
tenced to the West Virginia Penitentiary for five years, he escaped 
after five months. This time he was free for six months, during which 



Capital Punishment 83 

time he came back to North Carolina and hauled whiskey until he was 
re-arrested and returned to Virginia. He says he was pardoned from 
the Virginia and West Virginia Penitentiaries to go back to Tennessee 
where he served all but 30 days of his sentence and escaped again. He 
then went West for about 15 months. Here he wandered about as a 
fugitive from justice without being arrested, he says. 

Since he has been in the North Carolina State Prison he has escaped 
three times. Each time he was re-captured. 

Marital Record: 

His first marriage was to a girl in West Virginia when he was about 
19 years old and the girl about 17. He says they were married with 
the consent of her family. After his marriage, a girl in Virginia had 
him arrested for seduction and on her charge he was convicted and sent 
to the Virginia State Prison. He says that he had had no relations 
with her, and was not the father of her child. While he was in prison 
his wife got a divorce, having had one child by him. 

His second marriage also was in West Virginia, when he was about 
22 years old and the girl not quite 17. In this case they married with- 
out the consent of her family. One child was born to them. This wife 
also got a divorce from him while he was in prison. 

He has not been married since, but when he was about 25 years old 
he "took up" with another girl, 18 years old, who lived with him as 
his mistress until his present imprisonment. She was a sister of his 
brother's wife and he had known her since she was a small child. By 
her he had two chldren. Since he has been in the North Carolina State 
Prison she has left him and has married another man who the prisoner 
does not consider good enough for her, although the man appears to 
have made her an ordinarily good husband. The prisoner has no re- 
sentment toward either of them. 

He has kept up with his four children, two legitimate and two illegiti- 
mate, one boy and three girls, all of whom appear to be normal. His 
legitimate children are with his brother in a North Carolina town; and 
his illegitimate ones with the people of his former mistress. The oldest 
child has just reached school age. 

The prisoner began at five or six years of age to have what sex rela- 
tions he could with little girls in the neighborhood, and when he was 
16 years old he had relations with a woman 10 or 15 years older than 
he. He has always been hypersexed and has always had a wife or a 
"woman". 

Habits, Characteristics and Reputation: 

The prisoner smokes very moderately, but uses tobacco in no other 
form, and has never used narcotics or drugs, although at times he sold 
narcotics. Since boyhood he has been accustomed to about four drinks 
of liquor a day, but he says that he has never been really drunk in his 
life. He had a habit of gambling, especially with cards, often playing 
for high stakes. 

He states that he has always been conscientious about keeping a 
promise and that he has always had qualms of conscience when he did 
anything wrong. He feels that if he had a real chance to lead a Christian 
life he would do so, although he has no religious affiliations or experi- 
ences. His mother and father were members of the Baptist denom- 
ination. He says that he believes in God and has respect for religious 
matters. 

He is easily touched by other people who have gotten into trouble 
and says he has always felt a willingness to help them out. He has 



84 Capital Punishment 

no general resentment toward people, circumstances or institutions with 
which he has come in contact, although he thinks he is confined un- 
necessarily at present. 

Except for his escapes, he has never been reported for an offense in 
any institution. He gets along well with prisoners and guards, and 
although he is sensitive and has flashes of temper, they are over in 
a moment and he is generally sociable and good-natured. He has never 
had a fight in prison. In none of his escapes has he hit, tied or injured 
a guard. According to the prisoner, he might have escaped permanently 
except for the fact that he would always come back home to see either 
his mother or his children. He had a "sense" that he could not keep 
away from his people. Once when his brother's house was surrounded, 
he slipped in between the guards to see his children, spent an hour or 
two, and then got away again. He says that he left the Virginia Peni- 
tentiary because the authorities were very strict and he was afraid of 
the guards and of whipping and other treatment. He considers that he 
did not have the nerve to stand the imprisonment and therefore, had 
to get away. He seems to have derived no satisfaction, pleasure or 
elation from his various escapes. 

The prisoner is rather histrionic but shows some finesse. He walks 
into an audience with a somewhat self-important air, seems perfectly 
at ease, talks frankly, does not show any unusual emotional reaction, 
is neat in his appearance, keeps his hair nicely brushed, his hands 
clean and his dress neat. He talks rather loudly, using incorrect English, 
but trying to use impressive words and phrases. 

He is proud of his muscular development and appears to like to talk 
about his exploits, making himself the hero of each of them, and ex- 
pressing altruistic ideas. He has written a short autobiography in the 
front of which is his photograph. In fact he has had his picture taken 
many times, and has been particular as to which one was given to 
the newspapers. He seems to like newspaper publicity, although he 
says that the reporters always get the events wrong and that it hurts his 
pride for things to come out in the papers about him. He feels that 
the newspapers have given him "an awful unjust deal" and have made 
him a sinister character, publishing untruths about him and giving street 
rumors as fact. 

He declares that he values human life and would be the last person 
to take it. He shows an intimate knowledge of the underworld and 
of the frailties of women, and likes to talk about both. He shows no 
embarrassment about anything, except that he did not want to talk 
about his mother's immorality in the presence of several people. His 
idea is that the whole cause of his trouble is due to her conduct when 
he was young, and that the history of his case and the pamphlet on 
his life will lead others to live better lives; that if he can save one out 
of 100 people, it will be well worth while. 

Story of the Crime Charged: 

The prisoner came back to North Carolina to see his boy, and while 
here was arrested on the charge of the murder of a pawn-broker. He 
says that he had pawned a watch with this man, and when he went 
to redeem it, the pawn-broker told him to come again and he would 
look into the matter. When he returned, according to his story, the 
man refused to give him the watch or the money and said he had no 
record of it. However, record of this loan was afterward found, and 
the watch was also found in the store and returned to the prisoner. 

An altercation took place in which the prisoner struck the pawn-broker 
over the head with the barrel of a pistol, which discharged, making a 



Capital Punishment 85 

wound in the pawn-broker's shoulder. Thinking he had made a scalp 
wound, the prisoner left. The pawn-broker subsequently died. Realiz- 
ing that the police were after him, the prisoner went to West Virginia 
where he was arrested on the 11th of November, 1923. He was indicted 
for first degree murder, tried and convicted of second degree murder 
and sentenced to the North Carolina State Prison for 30 years. He 
escaped, but was recaptured within two days; was in prison for about 
20 months, escaped again, was out two weeks, and was again recap- 
tured in North Carolina. In about a year he escaped the third time 
and was free three months. He was recaptured in Indiana and was 
brought back to the North Carolina Penitentiary where he has been 
ever since. 
Mental Condition: 

The prisoner's basal metabolism is normal and his cooperation good. 
He has a chronological age of 33 years and a mental age of 10 years, 
four months. His intelligence quotient is 65. 

He impresses the examiner as being typical of one sort of criminal, 
with congenitally defective personality make-up. It seems that his 
mother's conduct is only a partial excuse rather than, as he thinks it, 
the entire cause of his delinquency. He has a very definite wanderlust; 
and a Jesse James type of hereditary criminal propensities. He expresses 
himself as being entirely fearless — and the examiner believes he is — 
and in emergencies he is evidently cool, quick and shrewd. His intelli- 
gence under tense situations must be far above the average, and his 
chief mental defect is shown in poor development of judgment, as, for 
instance, when he escaped from the Tennessee Penitentiary with only 
30 more days to serve. He does not appear to be controlled by impell- 
ing impulses when he escapes from prison or when he is committing 
crimes. He has calculated his escapes and planned them well, but again 
shows poor judgment in not covering his tracks when he is free, and 
in coming back to his own county in North Carolina. 

He seems to have genuine affection for his children and possibly for 
his mother, but no particular affection for any of the women he has 
associated with or for his brothers and sisters. He has ideas of reform 
which are altruistic rather than religious and which, in the opinion of 
the examiner, are part of his general pose. He seems to be unmoral 
and unsocial rather than immoral and anti-social, and these character- 
istics, it is believed, developed partly out of his native endowment and 
partly out of his environmental influences. He is an extrovert of a 
pronounced type, and is willing to make any decision, take any chance, 
or do anything the occasion requires, on a moment's notice. He expresses 
sorrow for having done wrong immediately afterwards, but this re- 
morse, if it may be called remorse, quickly leaves him and he will do 
the same thing or something worse upon the next occasion. He seems 
to have no persecutory ideas and is not paranoid in type. If one had 
to be bound by a definite psychiatric opinion, he might be put down as 
a mild hypomaniac. 

Another interesting feature of this case is his physical examination. 
He undoubtedly has definite signs of early locomotor ataxia, and some 
difficulty in pronouncing test sentences, which would indicate the pos- 



86 Capital Punishment 

sible onset of paresis. Blood Wassermanns have been done in other 
institutions, and are said to be negative. None has been done here. 
It is the examiner's opinion that a blood Wassermann would be posi- 
tive, and that the cell count and other elements, and the colloidal gold 
curve would show spinal syphilis. This cerebral spinal syphilis, how- 
ever, would be, in the examiner's opinion, the result rather than the 
cause of the life the prisoner has led. 

(For most of the data included in this case history the N. C. State 
Board of Charities and Public Welfare is indebted to Dr. Beverley Tucker 
of Richmond, Virginia.) 



CASE F 




Prisoner: White, b. North Carolina, March 2, 1907 
Charge: First Degree Murder 

Sentence: 20 to 30 Years, Second Degree Murder 
Present Location: State Prison, Incorrigible Camp 
Mental Diagnosis: Chronological Age: 21 Years 

Mental Age: 13 Years, 4 Months 
Intelligence Quotient: 83 



Physical Characteristics: 

The prisoner is mediumly well-built, with long neck, rather heavy 
growth of light hair, deep-set blue eyes in a long, narrow face, narrow 
head with long fronto-occipital diameter, good color and good complex- 
ion. He looks somewhat fatigued. He has cylindrical fingers, but no 
other peculiarities are to be noted in his shape. His reflexes are al) 
actively normal. His pulse was slightly accelerated and his face flushed, 
but he has no tremors, exophthalmos or other sign of goiter. His thyroid 
is normal. His teeth are well-developed, regular and in good condi- 
tion. His palate and throat appear normal. He eats and sleeps well. 
He is 21 years old, having been born March 2, 1907. 

Family History: 

Very little is known about his family. No one seems to know any- 
thing about his grandparents. His father died when the prisoner was 
an infant, and he knows nothing more about him than this. His mother, 
who died when he was 12 years old, is said to have been a chronic 
epileptic who had been married three times and had two sets of children 
placed in an orphanage. She is described as "a good-looking woman 
and seemed to be of the marriageable sort". After the prisoner's com- 
mitment to the orphanage at the age of seven, he never saw his mother 
alive again. As far as he knows, she was good to him, and was a good 
woman. He does not know that she is supposed to have had con- 
vulsions. 



88 Capital Punishment 

His father and mother had six children of whom the prisoner is the 
youngest. Two brothers and one sister had been put in an orphanage 
before he was placed there. His sister and four brothers are all living. 
They do not come to seem him in prison but have written to him. His 
sister is married and has three or four children. The prisoner thinks 
that his eldest brother has not gotten into any trouble. His next brother 
served four years in the penitentiary for automobile theft. The prisoner 
knows nothing more about him; neither does he know anything about 
the brother next in age. The one just older than himself was a travel- 
ing salesman when last heard from. The first two brothers are mar- 
ried. So far as the prisoner knows, none of them have any diseases. 

Early Home Conditions: 

The prisoner lived with his widowed mother, sister and four brothers 
until he was seven years old when he was committed to an orphanage. 
He says that his mother made a home for them up until that time, 
and took care of her children. He thinks she cared for him properly. 

He ran away from the orphanage several times, and was returned, 
leaving permanently when he was 15 years old, when he ran away 
and the superintendent would not take him back. He thinks now that 
the orphanage authorities treated him well, although he did not think 
so at the time. 

At the orphanage he was on the baseball team and played most of 
the usual games. He says that he was sociable, had no special enemies, 
and was treated all right by the other children. However, he had a 
few fights. He went to church and Sunday school because he had to, 
but was never really interested in religion. 

IDducation : 

He attended the orphanage school regularly through the seventh 
grade. He had considerable difficulty with arithmetic and "hated it". 
He thinks he did pretty well at school. 

Occupations : 

After he left the orphanage, he spent most of his time hoboing from 
place to place. Three months was the longest time he worked any- 
where, when he was employed in a hardware store in Philadelphia. 
He does not know any trade, and has never saved any money. 

During a period of escape from prison he worked in two dairies, for 
a few weeks in each. 

Previous Arrests: 

He had never been arrested before the crime for which he was sen- 
tenced, although when he ran away from the orphanage with another 
boy he was picked up and carried to a county detention home for a 
week or two. Then he was taken to the county welfare department and 
made an appointment to return the next morning, but ran away. 

Marital Record: 

The prisoner is unmarried. He says he had no illicit sexual relations 
until after he left the orphanage. The first time he had them was in 
a house of prostitution in Pensacola, Florida, and later when he hoboed 
he had them from time to time. 
Habits, Characteristics and Reputation: 

The prisoner smokes moderately since he has been in prison. He 
never drank to excess, and not at all until his escape from the State 



Capital Punishment ,89 

Prison Farm. He has never used cocaine or morphine, and he does 
not gamble. Occasionally he has frightening dreams, but most of his 
dreams make no impression. 

Since he left the orphanage he has attended neither church nor Sun- 
day school. He believes in God and sometimes "studies about" whether 
he will be forgiven. He thinks life has treated him fairly, but says 
he does not know whether he has treated life fairly. 

When sitting, the prisoner has a habit of holding his head toward the 
left shoulder. During the examination he was a little restless, with 
tendency to slide forward in his chair. He answered questions at times 
with a degree of reticence, and at others with frankness. He appears 
to be somewhat reserved, rather sensitive and ill at ease, and seemed 
to be feigning indifference. He would flush at times, rub his eyes, run 
his hands through his hair, and squirm in his chair. He does not seem 
to be particularly ashamed of his habits of life, nor resentful of his 
fate. He says that he does not think that, if given the opportunity, he 
would try to escape again as he did from the State Prison Farm, al- 
though "one never could tell in this kind of life". He seems to have 
no affection for anyone except his sister. She has written to him and 
sent him things. He realizes that she would have done more for him 
except for the fact that she cannot afford to, as she has three children. 

The prisoner expresses no delusions or hallucinations. He impresses 
one as being a repressed, emotional type with a distinct hobo tendency. 
His psychopathic inferiority is shown chiefly by his non-conformity to 
the life of the orphanage and the prison. His hobo tendencies and sexual 
and other dreams give the impression that he is nervously unstable. He 
says that at times he becomes so nervous that he "has to stop every- 
thing and sit down". 

Story of the Crime Charged: 

In January, 1923, he was placed by the welfare committee in the 
home of Mr. A. He worked on Mr. A's farm at one thing and another 
for five weeks. He then discovered that Mrs. A, a middle-aged woman, 
had some money in a safe in the house, and he wanted to get it. He 
states, however, that she had been good to him. One day he went 
in the house from work at about nine o'clock in the morning with 
the intention of getting this money. The safe was in the sitting-room 
and he found Mrs. A in this room sitting by the fireplace. He told her 
to open the safe, but she refused to do so. Then he drew a pistol, 
which he had taken out of one of the drawers a few days before, and 
told her that she had better open the safe, or he would shoot. Mrs. A 
told him she would not do it. Whereupon, he argued with her, shot 
her once, and threw the pistol down. As the safe had not been opened, 
he did not get the money, but ran and unhitched the horse and rode 
away. He left the horse in a wood, and went on from there to Greens- 
boro. He did not see anyone he knew, but boarded a freight train and 
went to Charlotte. Here he stayed for a day or two, and then hoboed 
to various places in the country, among them Philadelphia where he 
worked in a hardware store. 

After about nine months he came back to North Carolina and went 
to his sister's home where he was arrested. He was convicted of second 
degree murder and sentenced to from 20 to 30 years imprisonment. He 
was first charged with first degree murder, and it was only through 
testimony as to his mental condition that he was saved from a sentence 
of death. 

He escaped from the North Carolina State Prison Farm while work- 
ing in a sand-pit. He saw an opportunity to escape and got out of the 



90 Capital Punishment 

pit and ran. He was free a little over six months, and then gave him- 
self up to the authorities in New York, and was brought back. He 
says he thought he would come back and work his time out, rather 
than be a fugitive dodging the officers. 

Mental Condition: 

The prisoner will be 21 years old on the second day of March. His 
mental age is 13 years and four months, and his intelligence quotient 
83. 

This prisoner seems to have an hereditary defect, shown by his 
mother's epilepsy, his father's inability to support the family properly; 
and the fact that his brother was a thief. He was put in an orphanage 
where he could not conform and from which he frequently ran away. 
As soon as he got outside he led the life of a hobo. He has never been 
subject to many bad habits, but showed some schizoid tendencies and 
lack of emotion when telling about the murder he committed. He did, 
however, show some emotion about minor things. He appears to have 
forgotten a good deal that he learned at school. The examiner's im- 
pression is that he has a defective hereditary, and is a case of consti- 
tutional psychopathic inferiority with criminalistic tendencies, who would 
probably have developed into much the same type of person and have 
had somewhat the same career, even if he had not been reared in an 
orphanage. 

(For most of the data included in this case history the N. C. State 
Board of Charities and Public Welfare is indebted to Dr. Beverley Tucker 
of Richmond, Virginia.) 



CASE G 




Prisoner: Negro, b. Lancaster, S. C, 18 8 4 

Charge: First Degree Murder 

Sentence: Death 

Sentence Commuted to Life Imprisonment 

Died of Pulmonary Tuberculosis at the N. C. State Prison, 
March 7, 1927 

Mental Diagnosis: Feebleminded 

Chronological Age: 43 Years (1927) 
Mental Age: 9 Years, 2 Months 
Intelligence Quotient: 57 



Physical Characteristics : 

The prisoner was of medium build, rather thick-set, five feet, seven 
Inches in height; weighing 145 pounds. He had rough, dark brown 
skin, brown eyes, and pronounced Negroid features, particularly nose 
and lips. His head was set down between the shoulders and he was in- 
clined to walk in a stooped position. From appearance he seemed to 
be of ordinary intelligence. He was 43 years old, having been born 
in Lancaster, S. C, in 1884. 

Physical examination upon his admission to the State Prison, October 
14, 1925, showed him to be in good health, except for the presence of 
bad teeth and an enlarged and accentuated heart. 

Family History: 

His grandparents and parents were natives of Lancaster County, South 
Carolina. His mother lived to be 95 years of age, while his father 
died at the age of 100. His father's parents died "of old age." All 
of the prisoner's grand-parents were slaves. Two of the prisoner's sisters 
died from dropsy and one brother of typhoid fever. There is one recorded 
case of insanity in the family, that of a maternal aunt. 

Early Home Conditions: 

Throughout the prisoner's childhood, his family occupied a one-story 
frame dwelling which was in very bad condition. There were 11 occu- 



92 Capital Punishment 

pants of this four-room shack, and it was here that his brother and his 
two sisters died. The lack of sanitary home conditions, due to ignorance 
and poverty, helped to prevent the development of normal family life 
with the simple comforts that good rural homes usually possess. 

His family had only the minimum necessities for existence. There 
seems to be no way to approximate their total resources at any time. 
The income was always variable and never adequate. The father was 
a tenant farmer and rented the house in which the prisoner spent his 
early life, paying for rent one 500-pound bale of cotton a year. As the 
boys grew older, however, two 500-pound bales were required annually. 
Subsequently there was a proportionate increase in the amount of cotton 
paid for rent, the amount being determined by the age and earning 
capacity of the several children. The father early encountered difficul- 
ties of economic pressure, and, lacking education and initiative, was 
unable to engineer himself into independent farm ownership. 

Education : 

Except for his being taught to read a little, the prisoner's education 
was neglected. This, perhaps, was due in part to the general apathy 
of the community and the poor educational advantages and inadequate 
school facilities provided for Negroes there. 

Occupation : 

Practically all his life the prisoner lived in or near Lancaster County, 
South Carolina, which adjoins Union County, North Carolina. Four months 
before he was charged with murder, he moved across the line into Union 
County, the home of his paramour and accomplice. He began to work 
in 1896 for a neighboring farmer, receiving $6.00 a month and food. 
In 1897 he became a share cropper, and until 1899, under this system, 
he received two bales of cotton a year. For the next five years (1899- 
1904) he received two-fifths of the entire crop raised. During the suc- 
ceeding years, he continued this type of farming, his share annually in- 
creasing, until in 1925 it amounted to $400.00. All of his share crop 
farming, like that of his father, was done for white landlords, but both 
hoped ultimately to assume personal ownership of the land they worked. 

Marital Record: 

He had been married twice, and was living with his second wife at 
the time of his arrest. Before and after marriage he maintained rela- 
tions with various women. Three children were born to him, one of 
this number illegitimate. At his trial it developed that on at least one 
occasion the woman involved with him in the murder stayed all night 
at his home, occupying the same bed with him, his wife, and her child, 
which was not regarded as questionable either by the prisoner or his wife. 

Habits, Characteristics and Reputation: 

He personified the "Uncle Tom" type of Negro with other character- 
istics typical of a present-day middle-aged Negro who had been denied 
opportunity for development. In many ways, he was a productive and 
useful citizen of his community, and was a type of leader in its religious 
and civic activities. He was an active member of the African Methodist 
Episcopal Zion Church, and served for a number of years as a "class 
leader" chosen by his fellow-members. His prison record was good and 
he consistently maintained a grade of B. He insisted upon his claim 
to good character, and his extra-marital relations with women were the 
only factor which seriously impaired his position. His irregular sex 
life seems to have been unknown in the community in which he lived, 
or, if it were known, it did not have any effect upon his reputation, for 



Capital Punishment 93 

at his trial, several white and Negro citizens of standing attested his 
good character, and many leading white citizens, including the Sheriff 
and a member of the Board of County Commissioners, testified to the 
same in asking the Governor to commute his sentence. 

Story of the Crime Charged: 

For about two years prior to the murder of the husband of his para- 
mour, the prisoner and the woman had known each other, and although 
both were married, they began "going together". The crisis between 
the prisoner and his victim came with an argument over their relative 
ability to conjure and "work roots". The woman, the prisoner and the 
husband were returning home from a visit to town. On a lonely road, 
the woman fell behind, thus permitting the prisoner and the husband 
to talk freely with each other. According to the prisoner's statement, 
they both were in good humor, and were talking about their mutual 
acquaintances, which led up to the following dialogue: 

Husband: "Some niggers call themselves so dam' smart!" 

Prisoner: "You needn't think that 'cause you can work roots nobody 
can work roots but you." 

Husband: "I got you now!" 

With these words, according to the prisoner, the husband struck him 
across the head with a stick which he had been carrying. This frightened 
the prisoner and as the man tried to strike again, he grabbed the stick, 
which broke, and both men reached into their pockets for their knives. 
The prisoner succeeded in extracting his knife first, and began cutting 
the other man's throat. According to the testimony of a physician who 
examined the body, death was almost instantaneous. 

The prisoner and the woman together lifted the body, the woman 
holding the feet and he the shoulders and arms, and carried it to the 
branch. The prisoner threw away his knife, returned home, told his 
wife of the crime, and made a fire in which he burned his coat and 
trousers. 

The body was found in the branch Thursday of the following week, 
and the Sheriff was notified about five o'clock in the afternoon and pro- 
ceeded to the spot to make an investigation. The Coroner and a doctor 
came, at the Sheriff's request, and following an examination of the body 
and an investigation of the scene of the crime which they identified by 
clots of blood on the honey-suckle bushes along the road, the Sheriff 
directed the prisoner to assist in the burial of the body. The Sheriff 
arrested two Negroes who were last seen with the victim at a baseball 
game on the afternoon of the murder. However, after being questioned, 
they were released and suspicion fell on the prisoner who was arrested. 
He implicated the woman who also was promptly arrested. He denied 
active participation in the murder,' but admitted that he was under the 
"evil infiuences" of the woman whom he assisted in bearing the body 
of their victim to the branch. 

At the trial the prisoner admitted that one month prior to the murder 
he had tried to buy some strychnine, saying that the woman's husband 
gave him 25 cents and requested him to purchase the poison in order 
that he (the husband) might commit suicide. When the husband had 
said: "I am just bothered up so I am a mind to kill myself", the 
prisoner had replied: "You ought to let another man do that". Later, 
however, in the testimony the prisoner admitted that the husband wished 
to use the poison in order to kill another man who had been intimate 
with his wife, but denied that he intended to assist in the killing, although 



94 Capital Punishment 

he had accepted money for the purchase of the strychnine, thus becom- 
ing a potential accomplice. 

The woman was sentenced to not less than eight years nor more than 
ten years in the State Prison, and the prisoner was found guilty of 
first degree murder and sentenced to death in the electric chair. 

Petitions for Clemency: 

After the prisoner had been sentenced to die the Governor received 
several petitions requesting executive clemency. They were of two kinds. 
The first based the appeal for executive clemency upon the association 
of the woman with the crime and her light sentence (eight to ten years). 
Among this type are the following: 

"In view of the light sentence meted out to the woman, the prisoner 
is entitled to a commutation of sentence to life imprisonment." 

Clerk of Court. 

"The woman seems to be generally understood to have been the cause 
of the crime, it being contended by the State that she was the motive 
for the crime. She got off with ten years in the penitentiary, and testi- 
fied against the defendant. The woman does not always pay. The evi- 
dence of premeditation was conflicting". 

Attorney at Law. 

"Local white opinion was that the woman was as deeply implicated 
as was the prisoner, and that under the circumstances, he should not be 
electrocuted." 

State's Attorney. 

"I want to ask you to commute his sentence as the evidence of pre- 
meditation was very doubtful. Furthermore, the woman was undoubtedly 
the cause of the trouble between the two men". 

SheriiT. 

"My opinion at the time of the trial and now is that the prisoner is 
of a very low type mentally, and that he was simply led on step by 
step by this woman, who wanted to get her husband out of the way. 
I trust .... you will see your way clear to commute this sentence". 

Attorney at Law. 

The second type of petition was that of persons who testified to the 
prisoner's past character and reputation. 

"Prisoner does not seem to be a bad Negro at heart". 

Attorney at Law. 

"He has borne a good character always among the people with whom 
he lived, and has never been in trouble of any kind before this, he 
has never exhibited any of the qualities of a vicious character." 

Sheriff. 

"I have known the prisoner for a good many years, he lived on my 
place for three years, and he was a straight-forward, hard-working darky. 
He was never in anything of a serious nature until this charge arose. 
I am convinced that he was led into it by the woman in the case, and 
I respectfully urge your excellency .... considering the prisoner's past 
and good character .... to commute his sentence to life imprisonment". 

County Commissioner. 



Capital Punishment 95 

Prom the jury that heard the case, came the following letter: 
"On account of the fact that the prisoner, before his indictment, was 
a Negro of good standing, and on account of the fact that the co-defend- 
ant, who submitted to murder in the second degree has received only 
a sentence of ten years in the penitentiary .... under the circumstances 
.... the prisoner should not be required to pay the extreme penalty 
.... his sentence should be commuted to life imprisonment". 

The Governor commuted his sentence to life imprisonment. 

Mental Condition: 

The prisoner was feeble-minded. His chronological age was 43 years; 
his mental age, nine years and two months; and his intelligence quo- 
tient 57. 



CASE H 



Prisoner: Negro, b. Pickens, S. C, July 10, 1909 

Charge: Rape 

Sentence: Death 

Sentence Commuted to Life Imprisonment 

Mental Diagnosis: Feeble-minded 

Chronological Age: 18 Years (1927) 
Mental Age: 8 Years, 6 Months 
Intelligence Quotient: 53. 



Physical Characteristics : 

At the time the crime charged was committed, the prisoner was 17 
years old, weighed between 100 and 125 pounds, and was five feet, seven 
inches in height. His complexion is dark brown; his eyes brown. He 
was born in Pickens, S. C, on July 10, 1909. 

Physical examination showed him to be in very good health, having 
been ill only twice in his life; once with fever and once with influenza. 

Family History: 

His mother died when he was quite young and his father is still living 
at Pickens. There were nine members of his family at his home. His 
sister, with whom he lived in Asheville, N. C, before his employment 
at the sanitorium at which he was working when the crime charged 
was committed, is now living in Charlotte. She is 23 years old, and 
gives the impression of being a much lower mental type than he. She 
has been married twice. Her first husband is dead, and she is now 
living with a man to whom she is not married. She bears a scar on 
her upper left arm which appears to be a knife wound. She claims this 
wound was inflicted during play with her second husband. 

Early Home Conditions: 

The prisoner lived in Pickens, S. C, until one month before his arrest. 
His home there was one-story frame dwelling with four rooms for which 
the family paid $3.00 a month rent. Nine members of his family lived here. 



Capital Punishment 97 

Education : 

He completed the fifth grade at the age of 17 years. He was good in 
spelling and geography, but backward in arithmetic. He liked to go 
to school. 

Occupations : 

He was employed by several persons in Pickens from time to time, 
and began by waiting at table at an inn where his wages, including tips, 
were about $6.50 a week. He worked here for five months, and later 
was employed as house boy, street laborer, cotton picker, and for a 
short time he helped his father repair shoes. He had also acted as 
nurse and companion for several white children in his community. Some- 
times he would leave his employer when a particular job was completed, 
and at other times when he felt that his wages were not high enough. 
He held his first job as waiter longer than any subsequent one, and 
he seems to have enjoyed changing employment. At the time of his 
arrest he was employed at a sanatorium near Asheville. He had been 
self-supporting for a number of years. 

Marital Record: 

He is unmarried. At the age of 15 years he began "going with" 
a Negro girl of the same age. This association continued for about two 
years. During this time they had sexual relations. 

Habits, Characteristics and Reputation: 

He bore a good reputation in his community. Reputable neighbors, 
among them prominent white citizens, cheerfully testified to his good 
character. He was considered trustworthy, as shown by the fact that 
he had been employed as nurse and companion for white children. He 
had a steady employment record. 

Story of the Crime Charged: 

He left South Carolina to visit his sister who was then living in a 
public boarding house in Asheville. Here soon after his arrival he 
secured employment at a sanatorium for the care of tubercular patients 
located near the city where he was working at the time of his arrest. 
The prosecutrix was a married woman about .3 5 years old, with no chil- 
dren, whose husband at the time the alleged offense was committed was 
engaged in carpenter work on a house about a mile from the scene of 
the crime. For some time she had been selling flowers at the nearby 
cottages, hospitals and sanatoria. 

On the morning the offense was committed she had made the rounds 
at the sanatorium where the prisoner was employed. She said that she 
had finished her sales there and was on her way to her home when she 
claims she was assaulted. She did not fix the exact time of the alleged 
assault, but she claims to have left the sanatorium about eight o'clock. She 
stated that at a bend in the road about a mile and a quarter from the 
hospital a Negro approached her and passed by, then turned back and 
immediately assaulted her. 

The prosecutrix stated further that soon after she had been assaulted 
she went to the home of Mr. A, about a quarter of a mile away; that 
she knew Mr. A and the members of his family, having formerly been 
a caretaker of his premises. About 15 minutes after she arrived at 
A's house she gave a detailed statement of how the crime was committed 
to Mr. A in the presence of Mr. B and a deputy sheriff. Asked to describe 
her assailant, she said that "the Negro was about 3 5 years old, was 
a rather large yellow Negro with a blue shirt, yellow trousers and a 
felt hat". Asked if she had ever seen her assailant before she said. 



98 Capital Punishment 

"No, he is a stranger". Messrs. A and B said that she was perfectly 
rational when she made these statements, and the Deputy Sheriff who 
was present made a memorandum of it. For some reason, at the trial 
the State did not put either A, B, or the Deputy Sheriff on the witness 
stand, although the two former were subpoenaed as witnesses for the 
State. 

In the afternoon of the same day the prosecutrix described her assail- 
ant to the Sheriff of Buncombe County as follows: "He was a colored 
man who had on a rather light pair of pants; they were not overall 
goods, nor fine goods, just a pair of work pants". Late in the after- 
noon of the day of the assault, the prisoner who for several weeks had 
been employed at the sanatorium where that morning the woman had 
sold flowers was arrested and brought before the prosecutrix, whereupon 
she stated that he was her assailant. At that time the prisoner was a 
young Negro boy about 17 years old, five feet, seven inches in height, 
who weighed between 100 and 125 pounds and was of very dark com- 
plexion. After many months of close confinement in prison he may be 
described as of a dark chocolate color. 

There was no other material evidence offered by the State in cor- 
roboration of the prosecutrix's identification of the prisoner as the Negro 
who assaulted her. 

Incidents of the Trial: 

Immediately after the prisoner was charged with the crime he was 
taken from Asheville and confined in the Charlotte jail, and was brought 
back to Buncombe County for trial on the morning the court convened. 
As he was unable to employ counsel, the court assigned a lawyer to 
appear for him, but this was not done until the late afternoon of the 
day prior to the beginning of the trial and after arraignment of the 
prisoner and the drawing of the venire. His appointed counsel was 
assisted in the trial by a lawyer from the home of the prisoner in South 
Carolina, who volunteered to help on account of his acquaintance with 
the prisoner from childhood. 

At the beginning of the trial counsel for the prisoner made a motion 
for continuance in order to enable them to make investigation and to 
examine the material witnesses. This motion, in the discretion of the 
court, was declined. At the trial the prisoner denied the crime and 
stated that he was at the sanatorium at the time the offense was com- 
mitted and had remained there until three o'clock that day, offering 
the testimony of the house superintendent of the sanatorium, a trained 
nurse and others, tending to corroborate this statement. The evidence 
also disclosed the fact that he left the sanatorium by permission of 
the superintendent about three o'clock on the day the offense was com- 
mitted; that prior to that time he had been constantly engaged in the 
performance of his duties and that he returned to the sanatorium about 
five o'clock in the afternoon and was then arrested. 

The jury was composed, in general, of men of high character and 
more than ordinary intelligence. After considerable deliberation they 
returned a verdict of guilty. 

Governor's Statement in Coimnutation : 

The following statement made by Governor McLean commuting the 
prisoner's sentence from death to life imprisonment is quoted in full 
because of its importance in showing a phase of the administration of 
justice in capital cases. 

"It is clear that the counsel for the prisoner had insufficient time 
to make a thorough examination into the evidence and to learn the 



Capital Punishment 99 

names and whereabouts of all the witnesses whose testimony might ben- 
efit the prisoner. Neither did the court nor the counsel for the prisoner 
have any knowledge that there were persons other than those who had 
been subpoenaed who could give evidence throwing light upon the case. 

"A very careful examination of all the evidence produced upon the 
trial, including the depositions, convinces me that the jury had evidence 
upon which they could predicate a verdict of guilty. In this connection, 
however, I may say that the apparent unnatural conduct of the prose- 
cutrix at and about the time the offense was committed, her contradictory 
statements in her description of the prisoner at various times and other 
facts and circumstances might very well have raised a reasonable doubt 
in the minds of the jury as to the guilt of the prisoner. 

"New evidence not presented at the trial and which could not, under 
the circumstances, have been presented at the trial, has been presented 
to me as ground for the exercise of executive clemency. This evidence 
in substance is as follows: 

"Mr. A, whose testimony has heretofore been referred to and who 
was summoned by the State, was not examined by the State, but was 
examined by counsel for the prisoner, in an affidavit filed with me says: 
that he did not give all the facts in detail within his knowledge when 
examined at the trial because he was asked very few questions and he 
did not at that time know the importance of the evidence and had no 
opportunity to discuss the matter in detail with prisoner's counsel at 
the time he was examined. In his affidavit filed with me he gives in 
detail all the facts and circumstances, particularly the statements made 
to him by the prosecutrix immediately after the offense was committed 
and the further statement that Mr. B, a gentleman of high character, 
was present and heard the prosecutrix's statement. I do not deem it 
necessary to quote all of Mr. A's statement here, but the affidavit is 
on file and it is sufficient to say that it discloses a state of facts which 
in many particulars strongly contradicts the statements of the prosecu- 
trix, the effect of which is much stronger than the testimony which she 
gave upon the trial. 

"The affidavit of Mr. B, who was with A at the time the prosecutrix 
made the statement which is before me in every respect, corroborates 
A's statement and many material facts contradict the statement of the 
prosecutrix. Mr. B was not subpoenaed as a witness at the trial and 
his evidence therefore is entirely new evidence. 

"Diligent enquiry as to the character and reliability of Messrs. A 
and B discloses the fact that they are not only men of the highest 
character but of unusual intelligence. It may be said here that both 
of them, after being cognizant of all the facts unqualifiedly recommended 
commutation of the prisoner's sentence, although they assert that they 
are in favor of capital punishment in cases of this kind where evidence 
as to the guilt of the prisoner is conclusive. 

"The memorandum which the Deputy Sheriff took down at the time 
of the conversation with the prosecutrix in the presence of A and B in 
all material respects corroborates A and B. It is worthy of note here 
that the State did not use the testimony of the Deputy Sheriff or the 
memorandum at the trial. 

"Doctors C and D, who made the examination of the prosecutrix soon 
after her arrival at the hospital where she was treated, and to whom 
the prosecutrix described her assailant, strongly contradict the testimony 
which she gave upon the stand. Both of these physicians were well 
acquainted with the prosecutrix. Neither of these gentlemen were either 
subpoenaed or examined at the trial and the facts within their knowledge 
were not known to the counsel for the prisoner. Both of them in 



100 Capital Punishment 

addition to their statement of the facts in their knowledge have strongly 
urged the commutation of the sentence of the prisoner for the reason 
that they believe that there is too much doubt about his guilt to allow 
the death penalty to be inflicted. Doctors C and D are of the highest 
standing both professionally and personally. 

"There have been presented to me also affidavits of E, a patient at 
the sanatorium at the time the offense was committed, who saw both 
the prisoner and the prosecutrix at the sanatorium on the morning the 
crime was committed; Mrs. F, a patient at the same institution who 
saw the prosecutrix at the sanatorium this morning; the affidavit of Miss 
G, another patient at the sanatorium who saw the prosecutrix that morn- 
ing; the affidavit of Miss H, a nurse at the sanatorium who saw the 
prosecutrix at the sanatorium that morning; the affidavit of J, who was 
a patient at the sanatorium and was well acquainted with the prosecutrix, 
who saw the prosecutrix at the sanatorium that morning; the affidavit 
of Miss K, who was a patient at the sanatorium and who saw the prose- 
cutrix that morning and the affidavit of Miss L, a patient at the sana- 
torium and saw the prosecutrix there that morning. None of these parties 
were examined at the trial, nor were they subpoenaed for the reason 
that no one seems to have known at that time that they had any in- 
formation bearing upon the case. Their affidavits tend strongly to con- 
tradict the prosecutrix as to the time she says she left the sanatorium 
and to corroborate the alibi of the defendant. 

"Six of the jurors who tried the case requested me to commute the 
sentence of the prisoner to life imprisonment as follows: 

" 'The members of the jury who convicted the prisoner are writing 
you that evidence which was not presented to the jury and which was 
not known was available has been presented to us and it is such as to 
raise a reasonable doubt in our minds as to his guilt. We believe a 
commutation of his sentence pending future developments looking to 
the establishment of his innocence would be satisfactory to a majority 
of our people and that such action on your part would better serve the 
ends of justice'. 

"The attorney for the prisoner advises that he has been unable to 
find the other six jurors and they have made no representations to me. 

"About 4,000 of the best citizens, both men and women, in Asheville 
and Buncombe County, have either written me or signed petitions asking 
me for the death penalty not to be infficted in this case because of the 
doubt which they feel as to the guilt of the prisoner. 

"While I do not feel that mere public sentiment as expressed in the 
letters and petitions should control me in this or any other case; yet, 
on account of the spontaneous and overwhelming character of the ap- 
peals for clemency which have come to me from so large a number 
of the best citizenry of Buncombe County, I have felt that this taken 
with other material matters in the case have imposed upon me the 
duty of a thorough investigation. 

"Mr. M, an attorney who assisted the Solicitor in the prosecution has 
made a strong appeal to me for clemency which I quote as follows: 

" 'The evidence in this case, in my opinion, was far from convincing. 
We, as the prosecution, had very little more than the direct testimony 
of the attacked woman, while the defense had disinterested white people 
accounting for the little Negro's acts before the crime was committed, 
at the time of it, and afterwards. If their testimony is- to be believed, 
it was impossible for the little Negro to have committed the act of 
which he was accused, by reason of the fact that he did not have time 
to do all that he was accused of. I was very doubtful about the case 
when it went to the jury, but my work was done, and done to the best 
of my ability'. 



Capital Punishment 101 

"The prisoner had only lived in Asheville about three weeks where 
he had been employed at the sanatorium and where he had made a 
good impression upon everyone with whom he came in contact. The 
most prominent officials and citizens of his home town, Pickens, S. C, 
have given him a most excellent reputation, saying that he has been 
employed as a child nurse and companion of children of prominent white 
families from his childhood and he produced evidence from all the 
families by whom he had been employed to the effect that he had never 
been guilty of any misconduct of any kind and that his attitude towards 
women and children had been most respectful and deferential. I have 
also been impressed in going over the case with the deep-seated interest 
which the white citizens of Asheville and Buncombe County have taken 
in this case. The appeals to me have not been made by members of 
the prisoner's own race but by disinterested intelligent white men and 
women of the highest character and standing. It is inconceivable that 
all of these citizens should speak with one voice in appealing to me for 
clemency if it were not for the fact that they earnestly believe the 
infliction of the death penalty would be a grave injustice under the cir- 
cumstances of the case. 

"This case has given me more concern than any official duty I have 
had to perform since I became Governor. I believe firmly in the neces- 
sity for capital punishment and particularly in cases of rape, but I do 
not believe in the infliction of capital punishment even in the cases of 
rape unless it appears that the prisoner upon all evidence disclosed up 
to the very moment of the execution of the judgment is guilty beyond 
a reasonable doubt. That is not only the correct principle of law but 
it is the only principle that satisfies the inner conscience. My task 
has been the more difficult by the reason of the facts and circumstances 
which led up to the trial and conviction of the prisoner. I can think of 
no act more serious than the commission of the crime of rape except 
the taking of the life of an innocent person either with or without due 
process of law. 

"The Commissioner of Pardons and myself have felt so deeply our 
responsibility in this case that we determined in the very beginning that 
no stone should be left unturned in an effort to get at the real truth of 
the matter not only from the evidence submitted at the trial but upon 
any material evidence that might be discovered since the trial. For 
this reason a most thorough investigation of the case has continued for 
a period of several months. The Commissioner of Pardons at my request 
went to Asheville and made a thorough examination of the facts and 
circumstances submitted at the trial as well as the new evidence which 
has been recently reduced to writing and submitted in the form of 
affidavits. Every fact and circumstance that would tend to throw light 
upon the case has been thoroughly investigated. I have conferred per- 
sonally and at length with the Solicitor who tried the case and with 
the counsel for the prisoner. At my request the Commissioner of Pardons 
has conferred fully with the trial Judge. The Judge and Solicitor have 
made no definite recommendation, putting their failure to do so upon 
the ground that they tried the case upon the evidence produced at the 
trial and that they necessarily could not consider the new evidence which 
has been produced since that time. 

"Referring to this phase of the case the trial Judge says in substance: 
that he feels that the matter under the present conditions is one for 
the Governor to pass upon in the light of the new evidence submitted 
and that the action of the Governor whatever it may be, will meet with 
his entire approval. 



102 Capital Punishment 

"I have received no protests except one from a newspaper man who 
heard only the evidence presented at the trial. 

"If no evidence was submitted to me except that which was presented 
on the trial I do not feel that I would consider for a moment extending 
executive clemency because I believe that the jury might have rendered 
a verdict of either guilty or not guilty as they may have viewed the evi- 
dence. The case presented to me is a very different case from that pre- 
sented to the jury. The new evidence which I have referred to, as six 
of the jurors say, might have caused them to have returned a different 
verdict if they had had the benefit of it. On the other hand it m.ay be 
said that with all the evidence presented a jury might have been justi- 
fied in returning a verdict of guilty, particularly if they had believed 
the testimony of the prosecutrix given on the trial and disregarded all 
the testimony which tended to contradict her and to corroborate the 
defendant in establishing his alibi. 

"In the consideration of applications for executive clemency in criminal 
cases the Governor occupies a very peculiar position. Under the law 
and the practice of the courts in civil actions a new trial can be granted 
by the Supreme Court upon the ground of material evidence discovered 
after the trial in the lower court. In criminal cases the same rule does 
not apply. The Supreme Court cannot grant a new trial in a criminal 
case on newly discovered evidence no matter how strong. There is no 
recourse, therefore, to the prisoner if he desires to present newly dis- 
covered evidence in his own defense but to appeal to the Governor. It 
is not for me to say, however, that if I had the power to do so I would 
dispose of the application before me in this case by ordering a new trial 
upon all of the evidence including that presented at the trial and that 
which has been discovered since. Not being able to do that I must assume 
final responsibility. 

"After the most diligent and painstaking consideration of all the facts 
and circumstances presented to me I have concluded that upon all the 
evidence presented, particularly newly discovered evidence, that the jury 
might have rendered a verdict of not guilty if the newly discovered evi- 
dence had been submitted to them; for that reason I do not believe that 
the cause of justice would be promoted or that crimes such as the one 
in this case will be prevented by the infliction of the death penalty. 
Therefore, I have determined to commute the sentence of the prisoner 
from death to life imprisonment. It has been urged upon me by some 
that there should be a full pardon and that any other course than that 
would be inconsistent. I cannot take that view of the case. If a mistake 
should be made in this case and the death penalty inflicted upon an inno- 
cent man the opportunity to correct the error in the future will have 
passed. On the other hand, if the death penalty is not inflicted and the 
prisoner is confined in the State's Prison the real truth may be disclosed 
in the future and exact justice done. It must be remembered in this 
connection that the absolute discharge of a man who might be guilty 
of the crime charged would also be serious. In the final analysis I have 
not determined that the prisoner is not guilty of anything, but have de- 
termined that there is too much doubt in the case as now presented to 
me to permit the death penalty to be inflicted. 

"The sentence of death pronounced upon the prisoner is therefore 
commuted to imprisonment in the State's Prison for the term of his 
natural life. 

"This, the eighth day of July, 1926." 



Capital Punishment 103 

The facts in this case might be taken to suggest the need of a revision 
of criminal procedure in regard to the admission of new evidence in 
capital cases. 

Mental Condition: 

The prisoner was given a mental examination on January 29, 1926, 
at the State Prison. He was found to be a very cooperative boy who 
seemed not only interested in the questions asked him, but who made 
an effort to give satisfactory responses in all cases. The results of the 
examination are extremely clear-cut, presenting a picture of definite 
feeble-mindedness. Of the six tests at the ten-year level only one was 
passed, and he failed all of the twelve year tests. With a chronological 
age of 18 years (1927) and a mental age of eight years, six months, 
his intelligence quotient is 53. 



CASE I 




Prisoner: Negro, b. Charlotte, N. C, March 23, 1884 

Charge: First Degree Murder 

Sentence: Death 

Sentence Commuted to Life Imprisonment 

Mental Diagnosis: Feebleminded 

Chronological Age: 43 Years (1927) 
Mental Age: 10 Years, 4 Months 
Intelligence Quotient: 65. 



Physical Characteristics : 

The prisoner has dark brown skin; is five feet, eight inches in height; 
and weighs 151 pounds. He has prominent features, piercing brown 
eyes, large oval head with chin rigidly set, and a heavy moustache. He 
is 43 years old, having been born in Charlotte, N. C, March 23, 1884. 

Family History: 

His parents and an aunt had moved to Charlotte, N. C, from South 
Carolina shortly before his birth. His mother died when he was very 
young. 

He comes from an old slave stock classed in a more favored category 
than the rank and file of slaves before the Emancipation. His maternal 
grandparents moved from Virginia to South Carolina. His paternal grand- 
parents were born and lived in Chester, S. C. His nearest living rela- 
tive of the older generation is the wife of an uncle with whom he spent 
many of his early years. 

This uncle was supervisor of field hands among the 50 slaves on a 
rice plantation in South Carolina. He married a woman who was the 
"mammy" on a neighboring place and who, as such, was a privileged 
character among the 25 slaves there. Passes were granted on Sunday 
nights to permit certain slaves to attend church services. In this way 
the man and woman became acquainted and began a normal courtship. 
The rice plantation on which this uncle lived began to flourish with 
the arrival of a man from Africa who showed the slaves how to sow 
rice, and here the uncle continued to work until the Surrender in 1865. 



Capital Punishment 105 

The following year he married the woman whom he had been courting. 
She had remained with her former mistress from April until Christmas 
1865, service for which she received $30.00, in addition to her main- 
tenance. 

The uncle became a share cropper on the estate of his former master. 
He received about $100.00 a year as his share. He and his wife had 
14 children, all of whom were born after their marriage. Five died 
in infancy, and one served with credit in the World War. They were 
given a very limited education, most of them stopping school in order 
to work, or from indifference. 
Early Home Conditions: 

As his mother died in his early childhood, the prisoner was brought 
up by his father and the aunt who had come with the family to North 
Carolina. 
Education : 

His education stopped at the third grade, and he never tried to go 
higher. 

Occupations : 

He began work as an errand boy in Charlotte. His second employer 
also lived in Charlotte, but the prisoner followed this man to Washing- 
ton, D. C, where for about four years he was a saloon-keeper for him. 
Later, in order to get into a different environment, the prisoner went 
to New York and worked as janitor for four or five years. When his 
father fell ill in Charlotte, he returned home. Although he was always 
able to go back to his former employer, he said he was "tired foolin' 
'round whiskey" and began to work as an ordinary laborer in the Vir- 
ginia fertilizer plant in Charlotte. 

Marital Record: 

He is married and has four children. At the time of his arrest, he 
was living with his wife and family in a small three room house on 
an unimproved street in a poor, congested section. His wife says that 
he was a good provider and a faithful husband. His wife takes in wash- 
ing and does job work cleaning offices. Before his conviction for murder 
she was a member of a Negro Baptist church in Charlotte. She is the 
only one of eight children in her family who has not migrated to the 
North. 

His oldest daughter is married and intends soon to join her husband 
who works in a laundry in Jersey City. One of his sons works every 
week day and Sunday in a neighborhood shoe-shine parlor. 

Previous Arrests: 

Four times between the ages of 11 and 25 years the prisoner was 
arraigned in Mecklenburg County for fighting. The first offense was dis- 
posed of by a whipping from his father and the last by the payment 
of a fine and costs of court amounting to $273.00. At the age of 30 
years, he was convicted of highway robbery and sentenced to six years 
on the roads. He admits the justice of his former convictions. 

After this, and in the face of a bad reputation in his home community, 
the prisoner decided to lead a clean, straight-forward life, and returned 
to his family in Charlotte. Soon, however, he began bootlegging, and 
on one of his ventures of this sort was arrested as he stood in front 
of the store of the man with whose murder he was later to be charged. 
Habits, Characteristics and Reputation: 

The prisoner appears to be aggressive and independent, and is a good 
talker, quite alert to happenings about him. He seems to be a nomadic 



106 Capital Punishment 

type whose craving for alcohol was tempered when he had access to it 
in abundance as a saloon-keeper. His propensity for fighting is sug- 
gested by his arrests on that charge. Although by the testimony of 
his wife, his family relations were good, he had a bad reputation in the 
community. 

Story of the Crime Charged: 

The murder with which he is charged took place about 12 o'clock at 
night in the suburbs of Charlotte at the little store of the man whom, 
it is claimed, he killed, where a dim light was burning in a meat market. 
Two Negroes stated that they were on the street nearby and identified 
the prisoner. However, the son of the murdered man who was stand- 
ing near these Negroes and who saw all that they saw swore that he 
could not identify the prisoner as the man who killed his father. The 
prisoner's alibi was furnished solely by members of his family who 
claimed that he was at home when the murder was committed. 

Requests for Commutation: 

The case was tried by one of the oldest, most experienced, and most 
conscientious judges of the Superior Court of North, Carolina who not 
only enjoyed a long and distinguished career on the bench, but was 
for many years one of the ablest solicitors of the State. Recommending 
commutation of the prisoner's sentence, he addressed a letter to the 
Governor, part of which follows: 

"I wish I could see you and go into longer details of this case than 
I am going to do in this letter. I don't believe that this man is guilty 
of the killing for which he was convicted, or at least I have very grave 
doubts about it, and I had these doubts at the time he was tried. After 
the State's evidence was introduced, I suggested to the counsel repre- 
senting the defendant that they submit him for murder in the second 
degree and let me sentence him to the State's Prison for thirty years. 
They had a conference with him, so they informed me, and he refused 
to let this action be taken, contending — as his counsel informed me — 
that he was not guilty of the offense charged against him; so we went 
along and tried the case and he was convicted. 

"It is true, I think, that three Negro men swore to his identification. 
One of them struck me as being rather a silly Negro. And the evidence 
of those three did not impress me that they were telling the truth con- 
cerning the matters about which they were testifying. 

"It was about twelve o'clock at night when the killing took place in 
the suburbs of Charlotte at a little store, and a dim light was burning 
in a meat market. Two Negroes stated that they were standing on the 
street and identified the prisoner. The son of the deceased man was 
standing near where the Negroes were standing, and seemed to be a 
very intelligent young man, and he saw all that the Negroes saw, and 
he swore that he could not identify the prisoner and could not swear 
that he was the man who killed his father. The Negro man who testi- 
fied that the prisoner tried to rob him on the same night of the killing, 
I think, swore to an untruth as to its being the prisoner^ — if anyone did 
try to rob him. 

"There is an impression among some good people at Charlotte, and 
was at that time, that this was a sort of frame-up on the prisoner be- 
cause he had been a Negro of very bad character for several years and 
had been on the chaingang for quite a little while and had just been 
released from the gang. When I asked him if he had anything to say 
as to why the death sentence should not be pronounced against him, he 
made a short statement that impressed me, and I made up my mind 



Capital Punishment 107 

when I passed sentence upon him that I was going to ask you to com- 
mute his sentence, because, as stated above, I think there is too much 
doubt as to his guilt to let him go to the electric chair. Several good 
people in Charlotte told me that they had very grave doubts about his 
being guilty, and I think some of the officers, one of whom is now dead, 
were doubtful about his guilt. So I am asking you to commute this 
Negro's sentence from the death penalty to the longest term that the 
law will permit you to imprison him. He is getting on in years now. I 
do not know his age. It may develop in the future that he is not 
guilty, and, if it does, he can be released from prison. 

"I am so fully impressed that this Negro should not die for this of- 
fense that I will be glad to take all the criticism, if any there be, upon 
myself in recommending the course suggested above. I think, if you 
had heard the case tried as I heard it, that you would have reached 
the same opinion that I reached. I was a little inclined to set the verdict 
aside, but I thought it best not to do so, as there was strong evidence 
that he was the man, if the Negroes testifying against him were to be 
believed; but I do not believe that they told the truth, and I came to 
this conclusion from the way they answered questions propounded to 
them when they were on the stand, and their demeanor and conduct 
while testifying". 

The Solicitor of the Fourteenth Judicial District, also wrote a letter 
strongly recommending commutation. 

Commutation of Sentence: 

At the request of the prisoner the Governor interviewed him in the 
State's Prison at Raleigh. A most careful effort to elicit from him any 
fact or circumstance tending to establish his guilt proved unavailing. 

It was argued to the Governor at the hearing seeking commutation, 
that the case against the prisoner was what might be termed "a police 
made case". In the opinion of the Governor, however, this contention 
was not sustained by the evidence. 

Resting his decision upon the strong and unequivocal statements of 
the Judge and the Solicitor, who had better opportunity to weigh the 
facts, the Governor commuted the sentence of the prisoner from "death 
to imprisonment in the State's Prison for the term of his natural life". 

Mental Condition: 

On mental examination, the prisoner passed five of the six tests in 
the nine year group, four of the six in the ten year group, two of the 
eight in the 12 year group, and one of the six in the 14 year group. 
With a chronological age of 4 3 years (1927) and a mental age of ten 
years, four months, his intelligence quotient is 6 5. 



CASE J 




Prisoner: Negro, b. Chester County, S. C, 1906 

Charge: First Degree Murder 

Sentence: Death 

Sentence Commuted to Life Imprisonment 

Mental Diagnosis: Feebleminded 

Chronological Age: 21 Years (1927) 
Mental Age: 7 Years, 4 Months 
Intelligence Quotient: 46. 



Physical Characteristics: 

The prisoner is five feet, seven inches in height, and weighs 150 pounds. 
He has light brown skin, smooth, well-rounded Negroid features, and a 
set of good even teeth. He is 21 years old, having been born in Chester 
County, South Carolina, in 1906. 

Family History: 

It was found that nine members of the prisoner's immediate family 
were suffering from pellagra. 

Early Home Conditions: 

His family lived in a two-story frame dwelling with six rooms, located 
on a farm near Rock Hill, S. C. The members of the family received 
shares of cotton and corn for their labor as croppers, and payment of 
rent for their house was made in kind. Later they moved from this 
farm to Ogden which is situated between Rock Hill and Smith's Turnout. 
Here they occupied a one-story, five-room frame house for which they 
also made payment of rent in kind. 

Education : 

The prisoner received no formal education, except for his attendance 
at irregular intervals at a one-room schoolhouse near his home. He can 
read and do a little writing. 



Capital Punishment 109 

Occupations : 

He began working for the white man who employed his father. When 
farming became slack at home, he decided to seek a livelihood elsewhere 
until his father should send for him to return. Beginning to migrate 
Northward, he reached Charlottesville, Va., where he began working as 
a general laborer for the Southern Railway, receiving for this work $2.00 
a day. After two months, farming at his home began to pick up, and 
his father sent for him. He returned immediately, but after a season's 
work at home he left again, this time for Winston-Salem, N. C, where 
he was employed in a tobacco factory putting covers on packages of 
cigarettes. This was piece-work, and was done at night. He worked 
here for a year, until his father again sent for him and he went back 
home. After farming another season, he went to Mecklenburg County, 
North Carolina, on a Christmas visit. Here he remained until his arrest 
in February. 

Previous Arrest: 

His only previous arraignment was before a justice of the peace in 
York County, South Carolina, for fighting at the age of 15. His father 
paid the fine of $5.00. 

Marital Record: 

The prisoner is unmarried. 
Habits, Characteristics and Reputation: 

He is not a habitual criminal. He is inclined to be secretive, but 
is well-mannered and pleasant, with a friendly disposition. He claims 
to have enjoyed "the life of a sport", and to have done some smoking 
and drinking when he was away from home working. In short, he would 
carouse and have "a good time". 

Story of the Ciime Charged: 

On the night of February 16, the prisoner attended a Negro fish fry. 
Late in the evening, A, the son of a deputy sheriff of Mecklenburg 
County, and three rural policemen entered the house, and after having 
searched the prisoner and other members of the group present, threw 
several persons, including the prisoner, out of the door. There was 
no evidence in the record that the officers were armed with a warrant 
at the time they entered the house, or that any crime was being com- 
mitted in their presence. Nor was there any evidence that the prisoner 
was engaged in any breach of the law before or at the time he was 
thrown out of the back door. 

After being thrown out, the prisoner started away from the house, 
but was arrested by an officer and left in the custody of A while the 
officers returned to the house. During the time the prisoner and A were 
alone, at some distance from the house, A was shot with a pistol and 
killed. The brother-in-law of A, who was the rural policeman who 
arrested the prisoner after he came out of the house and who left him 
in the custody of A, stated in his testimony at the trial that "the man 
I arrested was not disorderly or resisting arrest up until the time I left 
him there". 

Incidents of the Trial: 

Three officers were present at the house where the homicide occurred, 
but only one of them was placed on the stand by the State as a witness. 
The State relied principally upon the alleged confession of the prisoner, 
testified to by the Chief of Police of Charlotte and made to him while 
the prisoner was incarcerated in that city shortly after his arrest.. Since 



110 Capital Punishment 

A's father was Deputy Sheriff and Jailer of Mecklenburg County, the 
prisoner was sent, by order of the Sheriff, first to Union County and 
later to Iredell, to be confined until the trial. A's father was the court 
officer in the Mecklenburg Court House during the trial. 

The prisoner was unable to communicate with his relatives and arrange 
for employment of counsel by them prior to the trial. He claims that 
his parents were able and willing to secure proper counsel for him. 
On the morning of his trial, the court assigned reputable attorneys to 
represent him. Upon his arraignment, and just after their appointment, 
these attorneys stated to the court that they had no knowledge of the 
case, except such as could be developed from brief conversation with 
the prisoner; that the prisoner had had no opportunity from the time 
he was charged with the crime to procure witnesses or to make any 
arrangements for his defense; and that it would be practically impos- 
sible for attorneys properly to prepare the defense by the following day, 
the time set by the court for the trial. For these and other reasons 
the attorneys for the prisoner moved for a continuance for a short time 
in order that they might properly prepare their defense and obtain neces- 
sary witnesses. The motion was overruled by the court as a matter 
of discretion. 

Evidence offered at the trial established the fact that the deceased, 
who was represented at the trial to have been an officer of the law 
at the time he was killed, was, in fact, not an officer at that time. It 
appeared also that the homicide took place during the disorder that 
began when the officers entered the house. The evidence was also very 
strong to the, effect that the entry of the officers into the house where 
the Negroes were created great excitement, confusion and disorder among 
the large number of men and women gathered there. 

Statement by the Prisoner: 

His version of the murder was given by the prisoner in the following 
statement made immediately after his arrest: 

Q. Did you run? 

A. No. I did not run. They caught me inside. 

Q. Did you have a gun? 

A. I had a gun but I did not have it with me. My uncle gave it to me. 

Q. What kind of gun was it? 

A. It was a 32. 

Q. What did the officer do? 

A. They searched me three times. They kicked me out of the house. 

Q. Did , they find anything on you when they searched you? 

A. They did not find any Avhiskey. I did not have anything but a 
little knife about two inches long. 

Q. Where did you go when you left that house? 

A. I went to my uncle's house. 

Q. Where were you when the shot was heard? 

A. They backed me behind the house and left me with one officer. 
I suppose he was an officer, but I do not know whether he was an officer 
or not. He caught my right arm. 

Q. Was he holding your arm when the shot was fired? 

A. Yes, he was holding my right arm here (just above the elbow) 
and I heard a shot fired. Then I ran. I did not run either but I walked 
away. 

Q. Do you think you were too drunk to know who fired the shot? 

A. I was drinking, but I was not drunk. I do not know where the 
pistol was shot from. 

Q. Did the pistol shot sound near? 

A. The shot sounded very close. 

Q. How far were' you from the house? 

A. I was about 100 yards from the house. 



Capital Punishment 111 

Q. Were there any bushes or houses near the house? 

A. There were bushes and one or two houses near the house. 

Q. Were there any bushes right where you were standing? 

A. No, the bushes were about 100 yards from where I was standing. 
There was nothing right there except an old house. 

Q. Did the officer say anything to you? 

A. He asked me if I knew where any whiskey was, and I told him 

I did not. He started hitting me. 

Q. What did he hit you with? 

A. He hit me with his fist. He knocked me down three times. He 
was knocking me down when the shot fired. 

Q. Did he say anything when he was shot? 

A. I did not hear him say anything. 

Q. When were you arrested? 

A. I was arrested the next week. I was at my uncle's house then. 

Q. Why did they come to arrest you? 

A. A boy told them he saw me with a gun of the same make as the 
one with which the man was killed. 

Q. Did they have this gun in court? 

A. Yes sir, they brought the gun to court. They said he was killed 

with a 32 just like mine. 

Q. Did you try to fight the officer? 

A. No sir, I did not try to fight the officer. 

Q. What were you doing in Charlotte and how long had you been 
there? 

A. I went to Charlotte to spend Christmas with my uncle, and had 

been there about one month. 

Q. In whose house was the party given? 

A. It was a house in Myers Park. 

Q. What was the name of the man? 

A. His name is B. 

Q. Did he own the house? 

A. No, it belonged to a white man but he was just living there. 

Q. Had you been accustomed to going there? 

A. No sir, I had never been there before. 

Q. How did you happen to go the night of the party? 

A. I got with some boys and they asked me to go. 

Q. Did the boys live there? 

A. No sir, they were just country boys. 

Commutation of Sentence: 

Immediately following the trial, requests for commutation of the pris- 
oner's sentence were presented to the Governor by more than 100 of 
the best people of Mecklenburg County, including a number of the court 
officers and attorneys who had no connection whatever with the case. 
The only protests against commutation came from the father of the 
deceased, who was the Chief of Rural Policemen of Mecklenburg County, 
several of the rural policemen working under him, and one or two 
others. 

On account of some unusual facts and circumstances disclosed, the 
Governor, from the beginning, felt constrained to give the case prolonged 
and most careful consideration. For that reason, he not only personally 
held several hearings in the case, but requested the Commissioner of 
Pardons to proceed to Mecklenburg County, and make a very careful 
investigation into every available fact and circumstance that would throw 
light upon the matter. Finally, he issued a subpoena for the Chief of 
Police of Charlotte who was examined with great care as to the facts 
and circumstances of the trial and as to his testimony before the trial 
court. Other evidence not produced at the trial was also heard by the 
Governor and by the Pardon Commissioner. 



112 Capital Punishment 

In commuting the prisoner's sentence the Governor said, "While I 
feel very reluctant generally to interfere with verdicts of juries and 
judgments of courts, I have from a careful consideration of the evidence 
produced upon the trial, as well as evidence presented to me which was 
not available at the trial, felt constrained to conclude that the ends of 
justice will not be subserved by the infliction of the death penalty in 
this case. I, therefore, commute the sentence from death to imprison- 
ment in the State's Prison at hard labor for the remainder of the prisoner's 
natural life". 

Mental Condition: 

The chronological age of the prisoner is 21 years (1927). His mental 
age is seven years and four months, and his intelligence quotient, 46. 



CASE K 




Prisoner: Negro, b. South Carolina, August 29, 1900. 

Charge: Rape 

Sentence: Death 

Sentence Commuted to Life Imprisonment 

Mental Diagnosis: Feebleminded 

Chronological Age: 27 Years (1927) 
Mental Age: 11 Years 
Intelligence Quotient: 69. 



Physical Characteristics : 

The prisoner is a man of medium height who weighs 150 pounds. He 
has brown eyes, dark brown skin and large, flabby features. He is 27 
years old, having been born in South Carolina on August 29th, 1900. 

Family History: 

He does not know whether his parents, who were slaves, were ever 
married. They died when he was quite young. He was the youngest 
of 15 children. His five brothers had criminal careers, and two of them 
met death by being shot in a gambling brawl. 

E!ducation : 

At the age of eight years he left school when he was in the second 
grade. 

Occupations : 

As a boy he lived in Waxhaw. Later he was a resident of Big Island 
and Lynchburg, Va., Mayberry, Thorpe, and Lanesburg, W. Va., and 
still later he spent a few months in Indiana. In West Virginia he 
worked as a coal miner, making good money, but spending it and 
gambling heavily. He has also worked as a common laborer and truck 
driver. Because of his ungovernable temper, he was not able to hold 
a job for more than four or five months. 



114 Capital Punishment 

Previous Arrests: 

His criminal career began when he was 11 years old when he was 
convicted of attempting assault with intent to rape. For this, he was 
sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. He served six years at the Whitney 
Camp from which he ran away at the age of 17. He managed to keep 
clear of the courts for several years, but was constantly engaged in 
one offense or another. His close contacts with older men in prison 
probably gave him all the training he needed for a career of crime. 

In 1924 he was engaged in a shooting scrape in Lynchburg, Va., in 
which he shot and killed a man. For this he was sentenced to death 
in the electric chair. But he escaped, and his Virginia sentence is still 
pending while he is imprisoned for life for rape in the North Carolina 
State Prison. 

After his escape from Virginia he went to Winston-Salem where, after 
a short time, he was arrested on two charges. The first was for steal- 
ing clothes. The authorities, however, dismissed this charge in order 
that he might be arraigned on the second charge of rape. 

Marital Record: 

While living in Virginia, the prisoner says, he "went with four dif- 
ferent women". The duration of his illicit relations with three of these 
paramours was eight, four and five months respectively. In 1919 he 
was forced to marry a woman of Greenbriar, W. Va., with whom he 
lived for five years. One girl, who is still living, was born to them. 
In 1924 he left his wife and moved to Lynchburg where he lived with 
one of his "women" for eight months. 

Habits, Characteristics and Reputation: 

He is a chronic fugitive from justice, and, never loses an opportunity 
to give trouble to prison officials and guards. He is the only C-grade 
prisoner in the Negro group whose histories are given here, all the 
others being of A and B grade. He, has an ungovernable temper. 

From the older prisoners with whom he was associated during his 
first imprisonment he learned of sex offenses which they had committed, 
in compensation for a sex life which he had wished even at the early 
age of 11 years. His mental examination showed indications of hyper- 
sexuality, a condition with which he was faced in addition to his train- 
ing for six years in the prison's school of crime. He was also taught 
the art of burglary. Being a man of low mentality, he did not succeed 
in covering his crimes, but carried out his criminal training during his 
short periods of freedom from prison. 

Story of the Crime Charged: 

The alleged victim of the prisoner's last rape charge ' was a mature 
Negro woman, the mother of two illigitimate children, and of bad moral 
reputation. She claims that her four months old illegitimate child is 
the prisoner's daughter. He admitted that he had been "going with" 
this woman for three years prior to the date on which she , had him 
arrested for rape. 

During the trial the woman and her sister testified that the prisoner 
entered the room in which the prosecutrix, her baby, and two younger 
sisters were sleeping. They further testified that the prisoner awakened 
the prosecutrix and compelled her to get up from her bed and go with 
him to another room at the rear of the house where the crime is alleged 
to have been committed. A sister of the prosecutrix stated that she 
was awakened by the prisoner's entrance to their bedroom, but that she 
made no outcry, and remained in her bed while he required her sister 
to accompany him to the other room. 



Capital Punishment 115 

The prisoner's version of this incident follows: 

"The prosecutrix sent me word that she had had a baby, and she 
accused me of being the father of this child, and said that if I did not 
come and see her and give her some money for the child she would 
take out a warrant for me. That night I went to see her. While there, 
I took off my shoes and my clothes, and when I was ready to go, I got 
dressed, but she locked my shoes up in tke closet. Then we had an 
argument and fought, practically the entire night. The following morn- 
ing, she swore out a warrant charging me with rape". 

Commutation of Sentence: 

Shortly after the prisoner's conviction and sentence to death in the 
electric chair the Solicitor who represented the State in his prosecution, 
called the Governor over long distance telephone to say that he and the 
trial Judge, after investigation, desired to recommend unreservedly a 
commutation of the sentence of death to one of life imprisonment. The 
Solicitor gave as the reason for requesting executive clemency, the fact 
that his attention had been called to the case by an aifidavit made by 
one of the jurors, "in which the affiant stated that after hearing the evi- 
dence in the case, arguments, and the charge of the Judge, and before 
arriving at a verdict of guilty with a recommendation for mercy, and 
being answered by the court that such a verdict was permissible, the 
juroi's found the defendant guilty of the charge and recommended mercy; 
that this affiant was, and is of the opinion that the other eleven jurors 
who sat on the case were under the impression that a verdict with said 
recommendation did not carry with it a death sentence, but that of 
life imprisonment; that had the jurors known or been instructed by 
the court, that a verdict with said recommendation meant a death sen- 
tence, this affiant would not have voted to convict the defendant of 
rape, and is of the opinion that the other jurors would not have voted 
to so convict the defendant, but would have found him guilty of a minor 
offense". 

The Governor also had an investigation made through the office of 
the Chief of Police in Winston-Salem and read over the testimony of 
all the witnesses who were examined on the trial. After taking into 
consideration the testimony of the prosecutrix and her sister, relative 
to the bedroom incident, and other facts presented by the Solicitor and 
the trial Judge, particularly their unreserved recommendation for a 
commutation of the sentence of death to one of life imprisonment, the 
Governor, expressing great confidence in their opinion and general at- 
titude in matters of this kind, commuted the sentence of the prisoner 
to life imprisonment. 

Mental Condition: 

The prisoner's chronological age is 27 years (1927). His mental 
age is 11 years, and his intelligence quotient, 69. He passed four out 
of the six tests in the 10 year group; four out of the eight in the 12 
year group; and only one in the 14 year group. 



CASE L 




Prisoner: Negro, b. Dinwiddie County, Virginia, June 14, 1896 

Charge: First Degree Burglary 

Sentence: Death 

Sentence Commuted to Life Imprisonment 

Mental Diagnosis: Subnormal or Retarded 

Chronological Age: 31 Years (1927) 
Mental Age: 12 Years, 4 Months 
Intelligence Quotient: 77. 



Physical Characteristics: 

The prisoner is a small man, weighing 134 pounds. He is 32 years 
old, having been born in Dinwiddie County, Virginia, on June 14, 1896. 

Early Home Conditions: 

During his childhood he lived in the two-story log cabin near Peters- 
burg, Va., in which he was born. Here he was cared for by his mother, 
who sent him to school during his early years. His mother is at present 
living in Petersburg. 

Education : 

The prisoner received the little education he has before he was 11 
years old, the age at which he started to work. 

Occupations : 

When he was 11 years old he began working in a tobacco factory in 
Petersburg. He was paid 25 cents a day for "toting" tobacco. He 
remained here for a year, and then did the same sort of work at 
another factory at 40 cents a day. 

Later he went to work as a delivery boy in a five and ten cents store. 
He held this job for four years at $3.50 a week, and then became ship- 
ping clerk in another nearby five and ten cents store where his wages 
were increased to $10.00 a week. After two years and a half, his desire 



Capital Punishment 117 

for change led him to work as butler for 18 months. During the fol- 
lowing year he earned approximately $30.00 a week as a bootblack in 
a barber shop. 

At the suggestion of an aunt who was living in Newport News, he 
left home for the first time to work in the Newport News ship yards. His 
stay here was brief, and he soon returned to Petersburg. When he 
was 25 years old, the desire to make money quickly led him to open 
a gambling house. This was soon raided by the police, and the prisoner 
was forced to serve six months on the county roads. When he had 
served his time, he worked as a piano player for parties and dances, 
making from $10.00 to $15.00 a night. He was also a house painter. 

Before coming to North Carolina he spent six months in Danville, 
Va., working as a brickmason for $1.00 an hour. He did this, he says, 
in order to try to erase the stigma of his sentence on the county chain 
gang. 

He moved to Plymouth, N. C, from Norfolk, Va., with a man whom 
he had met in Norfolk and with whom he had become quite friendly. 
His visit to Plymouth was his first venture in North Carolina. While 
there, he shared quarters with the man who had accompanied him from 
Norfolk. He was employed by this man from time to time for two 
years. 

Previous Arrests: 

His first conviction came when he was 15 years old, when he was 
fined $5.00 for playing ball in the street. His mother paid the fine 
and he was released. 

As mentioned above, he served six months on the roads for operating 
a gambling house in Petersburg. 

After about two years in Plymouth he wished to visit relatives in 
Petersburg, Va., and being on very good terms with the man with 
whom he lived, he borrowed some of his clothes without, it seems, the 
owner's expressed permission. The prisoner promised to return with 
the clothes, but stayed in Petersburg longer than he had anticipated. 
Whereupon, the owner of the clothes swore out a warrant for his arrest, 
and upon his return the prisoner was served with the warrant, tried 
and convicted, and sentenced to 30 days imprisonment in the Plymouth 
jail. 

Marital Record: 

The prisoner is unmarried, but he has lived with two women out- 
side of wedlock — the first for four years, and the second for two years. 

Habits, Characteristics and Reputation: 

He is talented in painting, and since his last imprisonment has painted 
a large collection of water colors, representing original ideas of the 
roads to Christian living and to the doom of the electric chair. He is 
also musical and can play the piano. 

Story of the Crime Charged: 

Soon after his confinement in the Plymouth jail, the prisoner was 
made a "trusty" and, as such, was assigned as a guard over the jail 
at night. Next to the jail, known as the "stockade", is the residence 
of A, from whom the prisoners were accustomed to make purchases. 
One day, while making a purchase and receiving change, the prisoner 
noticed that there was a large amount of money in the change box, 
apparently several hundred dollars in currency, as well as much silver 
change. In the store on this occasion he heard A state that a relative 
would come to visit them and would arrive at 12:30 that night. 



118 Capital Punishment 

While he was standing guard that night, the prisoner met an elderly 
man from A's place, and reminded him that the relative was expected. 
This man was of the opinion that the relative was to come on the 
morrow, but when the prisoner related the conversation he had heard, 
the man requested the prisoner to accompany him to the railroad station, 
a few blocks away by the road on which both the stockade and A's 
residence were located. The prisoner agreed, and they set out with 
a lantern, leaving the door of A's residence unlocked. 

After they had covered part of the distance, the prisoner announced 
that he would have to return for a moment, but would soon rejoin his 
companion. He made his way stealthily to the gate of A's residence. 
He was unarmed. When he entered the gate, the dog barked loudly, 
arousing A's wife, who went to the door. The prisoner entered by 
another door, tried to find the money, failed, and fearing capture, made 
a hasty exit and escaped. 

He was captured the next morning a few miles away. At the trial 
the State tried to introduce the motive of rape in addition to the charge 
of first degree burglary. The defendant attempted to have the charge 
read, "house-breaking". The trial Judge would not agree to that at 
this time, but after the prisoner's trial and conviction he modified his 
opinion. The prisoner was convicted of first degree burglary and sen- 
tenced to death. 

Commutation of Sentence: 

The Sheriff of the county. Clerk of the Superior Court, and every 
member of the jury signed a petition for commutation of the prisoner's 
sentence. The Sheriff states now that the prisoner was a useful citizen, 
that he has had sufficient punishment and should be released. The 
original petition was signed also by all the occupants of the house in 
which the crime was committed. 

The Congressman for the First North Carolina District addressed a 
letter to the Governor relative to the prisoner, part of which follows: 

"I was present at the trial of the prisoner for burglary in the Wash- 
ington County Court. I certainly do not think the death penalty ought 
to be imposed on this man. My reasons were much stronger then, as 
I saw and understood the situation and the appearance of the defendant, 
than I am now able to state them. 

"Of course you discount my letter very largely from your opinion of 
me, that if I was Governor I would pardon everybody. However cor- 
rect you may be about that, this man ought not to suffer the death 
penalty. Neither public opinion, the safety of society, the integrity of 
the courts nor 'the majesty of the law demands it." 

The Judge who presided at the prisoner's trial sent the following tele- 
gram to the Governor: 

"Owing to great doubt whether evidence sufficient to establish 
burglarious breaking and for mental condition will recommend commu- 
tation of the prisoner." 

In his statement granting commutation, the Governor referred to the 
alleged assault by the defendant on A's wife. He also stated that "the 
reason alleged for this remarkable unanimity in the county among the 



Capital Punishment 119 

officers favoring commuting the sentence is that they do not believe that 
the prisoner realized the enormity of his crime on account of his low 
mental condition, and that he simply meant to commit a theft". 

Mental Condition: 

The prisoner's chronological age is 31 years (1927). His mental 
age is 12 years, four months, and his intelligence quotient, 77. While 
the intelligence quotient is considerably higher in this case than in 
the others that are diagnosed as feebleminded, it should be noted that 
there is a much more clear-cut grouping of the tests passed: thus there 
is only one test passed above the 12 years group. "I believe", adds 
the examiner, "that this is a definite case of high grade defect in general 
intelligence." 



CASE M 




Prisoner: Negro, b. Raleigh, N. C, 1909 (?) 

Charge: Rape 

Sentence: Death 

Sentence Commuted to Life Imprisonment 

Mental Diagnosis: Feebleminded 

Chronological Age: 18 Years (1927) 
Mental Age: 6 Years, 2 Months 
Intelligence Quotient: 3 9. 



Physical Characteristics: 

The prisoner is six feet tall and weighs 145 pounds. He has dark 
brown skin, kinky black hair, and distinctly Negroid features, including 
a broad nose and thick lips. 

When he was six years old, a white spot appeared in his right eye. 
The doctor told his mother that it was the result of "strong medicines 
given to him by his grandmother". However, other members of his 
family who had no contact with the grandmother seems to have been 
similarly afflicted. 

Family History: 

He is of illegitimate parentage. His mother was legitimate. Her 
father sent her to work for an employee of the State Capitol in Raleigh. 
She herself received no pay for this work, as her employer sent her 
wages to her father. She kept this job for ten years. Her schooling 
lasted less than a year, and she can read and write only a little. She 
is not a church member. For years she has borne the name of the 
family of the prisoner's father to whom, she claims, she was married. 
She began her relations with him when she was 13 years old. She claims 
also to have married the father of the prisoner's half-brother and of two 
infants who died shortly after birth. She says that before she married 
this man she had heard that the prisoner's father was dead. 

His father left home with a group of boys to join the Navy and has 
not been heard of since. 



Capital Punishment 121 

Education : 

The prisoner was never a regular attendant at school, and stopped 
when he was in the fourth grade. 

Marital Record: 

He is unmarried. His mother volunteered the information that he 
paid no attention to girls before he was 17 years old. 

Habits, Characteristics and Reputation: 

He is inclined to be well-mannered, and is not very talkative. As 
far as his mother knows, he did not drink. He is of low mentality, and 
appears to be without special ability of any sort. 

Story of the Crime Charged: 

The crime with which the prisoner was charged is said to have been 
committed about Christmas, 1925, but he was not arrested until March 
of the following year. At the trial, the plaintiff, a white woman, stated 
that she met the prisoner on a road near the edge of the city between 
seven and eight o'clock one Friday evening. It was then, she claims, 
that he assaulted her. She testified that she returned by this same road 
on the following morning, when she again met the prisoner, but they 
did not have anything to say to each other. 

During the winter, the prisoner was confined to his bed with influenza, 
but early in March he was able to get up, and stayed in and about 
the house. Soon he was able to return to work. The day after he went 
back to his job he was arrested as he returned home. At the trial he 
offered an alibi which was sworn to by the white man and his wife for 
whom he worked. Twelve white witnesses and two Negro witnesses at- 
tested his good character. 

Commutation of Sentence: 

Believing that the State of North Carolina should throw around every 
one of its citizens every safeguard, the Governor requested the Super- 
intendent of the State Hospital for the Insane at Raleigh and his Chief 
of Staff, the Secretary of the State Board of Health and a member of 
his staff, a leading physician of Raleigh, the Clerk of the North Carolina 
Corporation Commission, the State Warehouse Superintendent, and the 
Chief of the Bureau of Markets to visit the condemned prisoner and satisfy 
themselves as to his mental condition, and then report to him. They 
were given no instructions or suggestions as to how they might arrive 
at their conclusions, but were merely asked to spend such time and 
make such inquiries and investigations as to satisfy themselves as to 
whether the Negro was of such mentality as would enable him to determine 
right from wrong. 

Their investigation lasted several days, and the gentlemen named 
above advised the Governor that they had gone very thoroughly into the 
case by seeing and talking with the prisoner, inquiring into his past 
life and otherwise seeking information about him. They reported that 
they were of the unanimous opinion that the prisoner was an imbecile 
or low type moron, with the mentality of not more than that of a 
child of eight years, and thus, could not be held responsible for his acts 
as contemplated by law. 

Upon receiving this report, the Governor issued an order commuting 
the prisoner's sentence to life imprisonment. His order closes with this 
paragraph: 

"The sentence of the prisoner has been commuted to life imprison- 
ment because of the strong conviction that the State of North Carolina 
should under no circumstances take the life of one of its citizens who 



122 . Capital Punishment 

is not mentally capable of understanding the consequences of his, acts. 
Whatever the facts surrounding the crime may have been, I believe 
that the dictates of humanity forbid the taking of life where the sub- 
ject is insane. With this in mind, the prisoner is this day commuted 
to life imprisonment to be worked and treated as provided by law". 

Mental Condition: 

The prisoner is probably 17 or 18 years old, but upon examination 
was unable to give his exact age or the date of his birth. His mental 
age is six years and two months, his basal age, seven years, and his 
intelligence quotient 3 9. While he seemed perfectly willing to answer 
the questions put to him, there was no indication of any interest on his 
part. His whole attitude was that of an individual naturally very dull 
and stupid. The degree of his general intelligence is very adequately 
indicated by his mental age; that is, he has a mental development cor- 
responding very closely to that of the normal child of six years. This 
is a case of definite feeblemindedness. 



CASE N 



Prisoner: Negro, b. Edenton, N. C, 1892 

Charge: First Degree Burglary 

Sentence: Death 

Sentence Commuted to Life Imprisonment 

Mental Diagnosis: Mentally Retarded 

Chronological Age: 3 5 Years (1927) 
Mental Age: 12 Years, 11 Months 
Intelligence Quotient: 81. 



Physical Characteristics : 

The prisoner is five feet, five and one-half inches in height, M^eighs 
145 pounds, and has brown skin and 'good, even features. 

Family History: 

His mother died when he was very young, and his father deserted him 
soon after, leaving him in the care of his grandparents. 

Early Home Conditions: 

Most of the prisoner's early life was spent in New Bern, N. C, where 
he lived with his grandparents in an old two story, four room, frame 
building which was in a fair condition of repair and was owned by the 
grandparents. The house and lot had a value of approximately $700.00. 
There were six or seven members of the family who shared the home 
with the prisoner. From infancy until he was 21 years old the prisoner 
did not see his father who had left home soon after his wife's death, 
and he took the name of his grandparents. 

Education : 

He reached only the fourth grade in school. 
Occupations: 

As a youngster, the prisoner seems to have been fairly industrious. 
His first job was doing house work in the home of a physician, service 
for which he received 80 cents a week and board. Then, for five or 



124 Capital Punishment 

six years he worked as a fish peddler. His commission was 25 cents 
on the dollar, and he averaged as much as $5.00 a day. 

Upon his release from prison at the expiration of his second sentence 
for burglary, he returned to New Bern and took preliminary steps look- 
ing toward an independent business career. He went to work in a 
sawmill near New Bern, and after working there for two or three months, 
he had earned enough money to buy clothes for himself and open a 
cafe. He ran this cafe for a year, employing two or three assistants, 
and clearing at least $10.00 a week. Becoming dissatisfied because his 
cafe was not proving sufficiently lucrative, he went back to work for 
his former employer, the fisherman. 

Previous Arrests: 

His first offense, burglary, was committed when he was 16. or 17 
years old. On this charge he was convicted and sentenced to 10 years 
in the Penitentiary. Because of his good prison record, and the legal 
provision for prisoners to earn "gained time" for good behavior, he 
served only five years and three months. Upon his release, he moved 
to Norfolk, Va., where he was again arrested and convicted of burglary. 
For this he served three years and four months of a five year sentence. 

Marital Record: 

The prisoner is unmarried, although at a very early age he began 
having sex relations with girls in his neighborhood. 

Habits, Characteristics and Reputation: 

Although he is diagnosed as mentally retarded, he gives the impression 
of being above the average in intelligence, showing special ability in 
the solution of problems. He was fond of dancing and was an inveterate 
gambler. He claims that his heavy gambling losses were responsible 
for his tendency to burglarize in order that he might maintain the fast 
gambling pace which he had set. Although he was restless and of a 
migratory temperament there were periods in which he worked steadily. 
Before his last conviction he had no religious or fraternal affiliations, 
but he has recently joined the Baptist church to which he was drawn 
by the Prison Chaplain, and says that he believes that he has found in 
religion a hope for the future and an incentive to a life that is socially 
more useful. 

Since the commutation of his sentence he has maintained a model 
prison record. Grade A. At present he is located at the State Prison 
Camp Incorrigible at Stokesdale where he is employed as a camp cook. 
He is the only Negro prisoner in this group. 

Story of the Crime Charged: 

One Sunday morning during the winter prior to the New Bern fire, 
the prisoner met his employer, a fisherman, on the street and asked 
for a loan of money. The fisherman told him to come back the next 
morning since his religious convictions prevented him from "doing busi- 
ness on Sunday". Needing money immediately to cover his gambling 
losses, the prisoner sought it illegally that night. According to the 
evidence, he was unarmed when he smashed a door and attempted to 
burglarize at night. His entrance into this home awakened the inmates. 
A shot fired in the dark pierced the prisoner's side, and though badly 
wounded, he returned home and called a physician who ordered him 
moved to the hospital. While in the hospital he was accused of burglary 
in the first degree, and upon his recovery he was tried, convicted and 
sentenced to death in the electric chair. 



Capital Punishment 125 

Commutation of Sentence: 

After the prisoner had been reprieved three times, the Governor com- 
muted his sentence to life imprisonment, saying: "Upon the recom- 
mendation of the Judge and Solicitor who prosecuted and sentenced the 
prisoner, and of many good citizens and of the physician who states 
that he (the prisoner) is of very low mentality, I commute his sentence 
to life imprisonment in the State's Prison". 

Mental Condition: 

The prisoner was not so low in the mental scale that he could not 
make a good living. He made the highest score on the intelligence tests 
of any of the Negroes whose history are given in this study. However, 
his mental age is 12 years, 11 months, as compared with a chronological 
age of 35. His intelligence quotient is 81. 



CASE O 





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Prisoner: Negro, b. Williamston, N. C, July 3, 1901 

Charge: First Degree Murder 

Sentence: Death 

Electrocuted September 23, 1927 

Mental Diagnosis: Feebleminded 

Chronological Age: 26 Years (1927) 
Mental Age: 8 Years 
Intelligence Quotient: 50. 



Physical Characteristics : 

The prisoner was a short, under-sized man of ordinary appearance. 
He had light brown skin, large round head, and pleasant features. 

Family History: 

He came from a very poor stock. His parents were backward, Ignorant 
folk who lived in Martin County, North Carolina. 

Early Home Conditions: 

He was reared in Martin County, in this State, and had always been 
a resident of North Caroling,. As a youth he lived the rural life of his 
section, helping his father to farm. His home was a very poor, one 
story, three room frame dwelling without conveniences or more than 
bare necessities. 

Education : 

He attended school until he was 16 years old, but when he stopped 
school he had reached only the fourth grade. 

Occupations : 

For varying periods after leaving school he worked as a farm hand 
and common laborer for white people near his home. 

Marital Record: 

The prisoner was married and had six children. After his conviction 
his wife was forced to go to Greenville to work as a tobacco hand. With 



Capital Punishment 127 

her she carried the oldest and the youngest child, and the four others 
were left with their maternal grandmother who lived in the country 
near Williamston. 

Habits, Characteristics and Reputation: 

The prisoner was in every sense a "home body", and had not been 
accustomed to visit even Williamston, the large town nearest his home, 
very often. 

Story of tiie Crime Charged: 

A white boy left Williamston with a truck load of tobacco bound 
for delivery at the market at Wilson. When this boy was last seen 
driving through Williamston, the prisoner was on the driver's seat with 
him, according to the testimony of several witnesses. The white boy 
was never seen alive again, and his body was found later in some 
underbrush. 

The State claimed that the prisoner delivered the tobacco on the ware- 
house floor and that, upon being questioned as to the whereabouts of 
the white boy, he could give no explanation. He left the warehouse and 
did not return for his check in payment for the tobacco, and he was 
arrested at his home near Williamston. 

Incidents of the Trial: 

His parents immediately took steps for his defense, and although very 
poor, they raised $70.00 as a retainer for a lawyer to represent their 
son. This lawyer, however, after accepting the fee, made an investi- 
gation, but because the parents were unable to secure the second pay- 
ment on his fee, he refused to appear in court at the trial. A second 
lawyer was retained who represented the prisoner at the trial and sub- 
sequently at the hearing before the Governor when commutation of his 
sentence was sought. In order to pay the second lawyer's fee and other 
expenses of the defense, the father mortgaged his farm. The prisoner 
did not take the stand in his own defense, and a chain of circumstantial 
evidence forged by the State resulted in his conviction on the charge 
of first degree murder. 

Reprieiv^s: 

After his sentence of death, several reprieves were granted by the 
Governor in order that the prisoner's attorney and the Pardon Commis- 
sioner could make a complete investigation. Nothing was discovered, 
however, that showed a miscarriage of justice. The Governor there- 
fore refused to extend executive clemency, and the prisoner died in the 
electric chair on September 23, 1927, stoutly maintaining to the end 
that he was innocent of the crime charged. 

Mental Condition: 

The prisoner's chronological age was 2 6 years (1927). His mental 
age was 8 years, and his intelligence quotient was 50. He was definitely 
feebleminded. He passed five out of the six tests in the eight year 
group, but only one in the nine year group, and failed on all in the 
ten year group. 



CASE P 




Prisoner: Negro, b. Gates County, North Carolina, 1901 

Charge: First Degree Murder 

Sentence: Death 

Sentenced Commuted to Life Imprisonment 

Present Location: State Hospital for Negro Insane at Goldsboro 

Mental Diagnosis: Catatonic Dementia Praecox. 



Physical Characteristics : 

The prisoner is six feet in height and weighs 198 pounds. He has 
light brown skin and is slightly bald. He is 27 years old (1928) having 
been born in Gates County, North Carolina, in 1901. 

Family History: 

All of the prisoner's ancestors were of very poor stock living in back- 
ward, undeveloped communities. His paternal grandmother was insane. 

He is a member of a family of eight children. All of his brothers 
and sisters appear to be mentally defective, and one of his brothers has 
been an epileptic since birth. 

Marital Record: 

When he was arrested for murder the prisoner had been married five 
years, and was the father of three children, one of whom is an idiot. 
Prior to his marriage he had lived with a woman for two years without 
the formality of marriage. This woman had been treated for syphilis 
and gonorrhea for two years and was almost totally blind. 

Story of the Crime Charged: 

The prisoner shot and killed a deputy sheriff of Gates County while 
the officer was engaged in the performance of his duty. 

Opinions About the Prisoner's Condition: 

The Judge before whom he was tried expressed his opinion of the 
prisoner in the following words: 



Capital Punishment 129 

"I feel that the merciful intervention of the pardoning power ought 
to be invoked, and in this case I ask you to intercede in his behalf, 
I am confirmed in this view by the Sheriff of this county where the 
prisoner was tried, who says that he has seen him recently, and that 
he has no mind at all. I insist that the prisoner ought not to go to 
the chair and that life imprisonment would be a proper punishment for 
him". 

After the commitment of the prisoner to the State Prison the Gov- 
ernor directed the Commissioner of Pardons to have him closely observed 
and to have three doctors, one a member of the staff of the State Hos- 
pital for the Insane at Raleigh, make careful examination of him. They 
advised the Governor as follows: 

"At your request we have examined the prisoner and we are of the 
opinion that he is of unsound mind. We recommend that he be trans- 
ferred to the criminal insane hospital at Goldsboro for further observation 
and complete detailed examination including physical, neurological and 
laboratory findings". 

Upon receipt of this report by the Governor, the prisoner was trans- 
ferred to the criminal division of the State Hospital for Negro Insane 
for observation. A reprieve of 30 days was extended him in order that 
a thorough examination might be made. After this period of observation, 
the hospital authorities reported: 

"The said prisoner has been under daily observation during his stay 
in the institution and we, the undersigned, wish to report to you that 
in our opinion he is now insane, having the catatonic form of dementia 
praecox." 

In the meantime, the Commissioner of Pardons went to Gates County 
to investigate the case and advised the Governor that while the mentality 
of the prisoner was never brought into question, the mental weakness 
of other membei's of his immediate family was generally conceded. The 
Commissioner interviewed the father of the murdered officer and others 
interested in the prosecution of the prisoner. The Sheriff of Gates County 
and other citizens who had opportunity to observe the prisoner ex- 
pressed the opinion that he was insane. 

Commutation of Sentence: 

In commuting his sentence, the Governor made the following state- 
ment: 

"While the father of the young officer feels deeply the loss of his 
son and the guilt of the prisoner, I am advised by the Commissioner of 
Pardons that he is in accord with the great body of intelligent senti- 
ment throughout North Carolina that the taking of the life of a prisoner 
who is insane would not be in accordance and in keeping with the dic- 
tates of humane society. This spirit on the part of the father of the 
deceased cannot be commended too highly. It is indicative of the high 
character of our citizenship and calls not alone for character, but a 
high sense of duty to one's fellowman regardless of the personal suffer- 
ing that has resulted. 

"The case of the above named prisoner has been before me for sev- 
eral months and has been given most careful attention and consideration. 
After carefully reviewing all the facts and circumstances and after having 
utilized every available means to determine the true status of the pris- 
oner, I am convinced that the prisoner is an insane man and therefore 
without regard to the degree of his guilt I am disposed to believe that 
Christian society has risen above the idea that a life should be exacted 
of an insane man. Acting upon this theory of the case and after having 
given time for thorough and complete investigation I have this day com- 



130 Capital Punishment 

muted the sentence of the prisoner to life imprisonment and have made 
this statement a part of the record in the case in order that my suc- 
cessors in office may have the benefit of this information, because I do 
not believe that the prisoner should have further clemency shown him". 

Mental Condition: 

Examination of the prisoner prior to the diagnosis of his condition 
as dementia praecox by authorities at the State Hospital for Negro Insane 
showed his condition to be as follows: 

At the time of the examination the prisoner was apparently in a 
marked state of confusion. He was disoriented for time and place, stat- 
ing that it was summer time and morning although the actual time was 
about three o'clock in the afternoon. He thought that the building in 
which he was examined was a church. He stated that he came to the 
institution the day before, that he had not had any dinner, and that 
he did not talk to any white man during the morning, although a rep- 
resentative of the State Board of Charities and Public Welfare had talked 
to him and taken his history. He was unable to tell the name of the 
President or of the Governor of the State. He did not know who brought 
him to the institution, nor why he had been brought there. In going 
back to his cell from the third floor, he did not seem to realize where 
he was, and attempted to go into each door that he came to, was unsteady 
in his gait, and had a vacant expression in eyes and face. 

The examiners were unable to tell how much of the condition which 
they observed was the result of emotional disturbance due to the fact 
that within a day or two preceding the examination the prisoner had 
learned of the failure of his appeal from electrocution. The examiners 
did not feel, however, that the entire condition was the result of this 
factor, but that the prisoner was suffering from mental deterioration. 



CASE Q 




Prisoner: Negro, b. Moore County, North Carolina, April 29, 1905 

Charge: First Degree Murder 

Sentence: Death 

Sentence Commuted to Life Imprisonment 

Mental Diagnosis: Probable Subnormality in General Intelligence 
with Psychopathic Condition 
Chronological Age: 22 Years (1927) 
Mental Age: 10 Years, 4 Months 
Intelligence Quotient: 65. 



Physical Characteristics: 

The prisoner is five feet, five inches in height and weighs 137 pounds. 
He has rough, black skin and is rather stooped. He is 22 years old 
(1927) having been born in Carthage, N. C, April 29, 1905. 

Early Home Conditions: 

An illegitimate child, he never knew his mother, father nor any of 
his relatives. He never attended school and has led a migratory exist- 
ence all of his life. 

Story of the Crime Charged: 

He had been living in Chowan County about two or three months, 
and while there he became associated with A, whose reputation was 
very bad and who had had many court convictions and had served sev- 
eral sentences for various offenses. One evening at dusk the prisoner 
and A waylaid on the highway an elderly white man who was return- 
ing to his home from the town of Edenton where he had been selling 
his farm products that day. The old man was held up and robbery was 
attempted. He resisted and was shot in the breast. 

Just after the murder, as the boys were about to escape with his 
money, the glaring headlights of an automobile approaching around the 
curve in the road frightened them, and they fied. A general alarm was 



132 Capital Punishment 

raised and the prisoner and his associate were speedily apprehended and 
brought to trial. On the morning set for the trial, the court appointed 
two lawyers to represent the defendants. Each of them endeavored to 
incriminate the other, but both were found guilty of first degree murder 
and were sentenced to die by electrocution. 

Commutation of Sentence: 

Soon after they were committed to the State Prison, many reputable 
white persons of Moore County petitioned the Governor to commute the 
sentence of the prisoner because of his youth and also because of his 
low mentality. Both the Judge and the Solicitor refused to recommend 
commutation of the sentence of his associate, A, but urged that the 
ultimate decree of the courts be carried out in his case. On Friday, 
February 18, 1925, A was electrocuted, and just before entering the 
death chamber he confessed to firing the shot that killed the old farmer. 
He said that the prisoner also fired at the victim, but missed. 

After giving six hearings to those urging commutation for the prisoner, 
the Governor issued the following statement in commuting his sentence. 

"The prisoner appears to be only about 18 years of age, and it is 
represented to me by reputable persons from his home in Moore County 
that he is much below normal in mentality. Several petitions, signed 
by a great many citizens of the county and community in which the 
crime was committed, were presented in this case. Taking into con- 
sideration all the facts in the case, particularly the urgent recom- 
mendations of the Solicitor, concurred in by the Judge, in whose opinion 
and general attitude in matters of this kind I have very great confidence, 
I hereby commute the sentence of this prisoner from death to life 
imprisonment". 

Mental Condition: 

The prisoner's chronological age is 22 years (1927). His mental age 
is ten years and four months, and his intelligence quotient 65. The 
results of this examination are not clear-cut. The range of successful 
responses is much wider in this case than usual, extending from the 
basal age of eight years through the 16 year group. There is an uneven- 
ness in response that indicates a psychopathic condition rather than one 
of definite feeblemindedness. Frequent fine tremors of the head and 
occasionally of the body, which the subject claims to have had as long 
as he can remember, suggest there is a definite involvement of the neural 
system, and that thorough examination by a neurologist would be 
advisable. 



CASE R 




Prisoner: Negro, b. Wilson County, N. C, November, 1905 (?) 

Charge: Rape and Murder 

Sentence: Death 

Electrocuted Sept. 28, 1928 

Mental Diagnosis: Subnormal in General Intelligence and 
Decidedly Psychopathic 
Chronological Age: 23 Years (1928) 
Mental Age: 5 Years, 6 Months 
Intelligence Quotient: 34. 



Physical Characteristics : 

The prisoner was rather small in build, five feet, four inches in height, 
weighing 130 pounds. He had dark brown skin, brown eyes, and black 
curly hair. He was 23 years old, having been born in Wilson County, 
North Carolina, in November, 1905 (?). 

His mother states that when he was quite young he had three or 
more spasms. He was treated for syphilis when he was 19 years old. 
Family History: 

His paternal and maternal grandparents, all of whom are dead, were 
slaves. Little could be learned of them except that his paternal grand- 
father was insane at the time of the prisoner's birth. 

His mother and father were born in a rural, undeveloped community. 
His mother is a very low mental type, while his father, of the "old 
darky" type, seems to be above the average in intelligence. A cousin 
on his mother's side was insane. 

The prisoner was next to the oldest of ten children. Three of his 
brothers and sisters died in infancy. His parents could not remember 
the birth dates of any of their children. His mother, however, did re- 
member that the prisoner "was born on the Monday before the fourth 
Sunday in November". She is certain of this "fact" because "her aunt 
and uncle came to see her on the fourth Sunday". One parent said 
that the prisoner was born in 1904, while the other is sure that the 
date was November, 190 5. 



134 Capital Punishment 

Early Home Conditions: 

During the prisoner's youth his father and mother, who were tenant 
farmers and share croppers, led a migratory existence, living three years 
in Nash County, two years in Wilson County, 11 years in Wayne County, 
and then returning to Wilson County where they lived for seven years. 
His father gave as reasons for these changes "that he wished to re- 
turn home" and "he did not want to be forced into cooperative market- 
ing", and again, "he wished to better conditions". While he was young 
the prisoner helped his father farm. 

Education : 

The prisoner attended the rural school in his community only one 
half term. He and a sister, who completed the third grade, were the 
only children in his family who attended school. 

Occupations : 

From early childhood, he worked as a farm hand, receiving for the 
last few years $1.00 a day and board. 

For two years after his arrest for driving an automobile while under 
the influence of liquor, he was frequently away from home all night. 
In explanation of this the prisoner stated that he and his first cousin 
worked regularly at night for a white man whose home is located about 
four miles outside the town of Fremont in Wayne County and who, 
the prisoner claimed, was engaged in the manufacture of liquor. He 
said that over a period of one year he and his cousin had been assist- 
ing in the manufacture of this liquor, each receiving as his pay a gallon 
of liquor every time a "run" was made. The prisoner claimed that ' 
the liquor was manufactured near a spring in a swamp about 100 yards 
directly back of the white man's house, also that the liquor was "run 
off" on an average of twice a week. The chief market for its sale, he 
said, was Wilson, N. C. 

Previous Arrests: 

At the age of 18 he was arrested for driving an automobile while 
under the influence of liquor, was found guilty, and paid a fine of 
$15.00. He was arrested the second time in Fremont for being drunk 
and creating a disturbance, and was fined $15.00. 

Marital Record: 

The latter part of 1926 the prisoner married a woman who is totally 
illiterate and an exceptionally low mental type. She claims to have 
attended school for one term. One child was born to them. His wife 
states that many times the prisoner stayed away from home all night 
and often, when in high temper, had threatened to strike her, and that 
one day not long before his last arrest he did strike here. 

At the time of his arrest for murder and rape, the prisoner, his 
wife and child lived with his parents in a four room frame dwelling. 
He and his wife worked for his parents. The home and its general 
surroundings presented a very disorderly appearance. The rooms were 
in a very untidy condition, and the two families (eight persons) occu- 
pied two bed rooms. About five white families and four Negro families 
lived in the immediate community. The Negroes said that "they did 
not know their white neighbors even by name", except one white family 
which employed many of the Negroes as farm hands. 

Habits, Characteristics and Reputation: 

During his childhood the prisoner was in the habit of giving way 
to a very high temper, and on one occasion he threw an ax at his mother 



Capital Punishment 135 

because "she laughed at him when he seemed disturbed because some 
children had teased him". The members of his family said that he had 
"racuous spells" and would go off into "tantrums" at times, but if 
ignored by the family he would soon quiet down. His leisure time was 
spent in "joy-riding" and in playing an old guitar. 

Story, of the Crime Charged: 

The 15-year-old daughter of a tenant farmer in Great Swamp town- 
ship, Wayne County, left her father's home soon after dark one even- 
ing in December, 1927, to go with a Negro woman to the latter 's house 
to buy some home-made syrup. When she failed to return an hour 
later, her father set out to look for her, going first to the Negro woman's 
house where, he found, the girl had stayed only a few minutes. Re- 
turning for help, he renewed the search. 

Soon the dead body of the girl was found a little way from the 
path about 45 yards from her father's house. The throat was slashed 
from ear to ear, one hand was cut to the bone, one wrist was slashed, 
and a great gash laid open one cheek. Her clothing had been partly 
torn off. An autopsy disclosed that she had given her life for her 
honor. 

Examination of the ground showed that there had evidently been a 
terrific struggle between the girl who was rather large for her age, 
weighing about 150 pounds, and some man wearing heavy rubber boots. 
Apparently she had broken away and had run a little distance pursued 
by this man. Indications were that, overtaking her, the booted man 
had again attacked her and in the struggle which followed had cut her 
throat. Further search disclosed the fact that the boot-tracks came 
across a field to the path, and from the spot where the body lay led 
back across the field. 

The oflJicers found the prisoner in his house, apparently asleep. Boots 
which he owned and which were found in his house fitted exactly into 
the tracks across the field. These boots were bloody, as were also a 
pair of overalls found in his house, and a long, sharp knife found under 
the house. When first arrested, the prisoner explained the bloody knife 
by saying that "he had just killed and skinned a rabbit". Later, how- 
ever, he confessed the crime. 

Sensational Trial: 

Justice, travelling hard on the heels of crime, placed the prisoner 
on trial for his life barely 60 hours after the body of the girl had 
been found. When he was first arrested, the Sheriff feared a lynch- 
ing, and hurried the prisoner to the State Prison at Raleigh for safe- 
keeping. The next morning the Judge directed that he be brought back 
to Goldsboro, and the trial began. There was every sign that trouble 
was brewing in the packed court room. The Judge suggested to the 
defense lawyers that they take the prisoner into the jury room and 
confer with him. Half an hour later the court was adjourned, and the 
crowd, if it had intended lynching the prisoner, had been outwitted, for 
the prisoner was nearing Raleigh when the court adjourned. 

The following morning, which was Sunday, long before the hour 
set for the opening of court a crowd packed the court room and several 
hundred people waited silently outside. The court was soon thrown 
into pandemonium when an uncle of the murdered girl precipitated what 
seemed to be a well-planned attempt to take the prisoner from the court 
Toom and lynch him. Beside the uncle stood the girl's father and be- 
hind him a number of relatives and neighbors. With a cry of "Take 
him!" the uncle grabbed the prisoner by the throat, pulled him out of 



136 Capital Punishment 

his seat and tore his shirt from his body. Those apparently in collusion 
with him surged forward. The Sheriff threw himself between the pris- 
oner and the leaders of the attempt at lynching, seized the prisoner, and 
fired his pistol twice into the ceiling of the court room. The would-be 
lynchers retreated. The Sheriff, still holding the pistol on the crowd 
and pushing the prisoner behind him, backed toward the door of the 
jury room. The court room was soon in an uproar, many spectators 
hurrying toward the exits. 

The Judge directed that the prisoner be taken out until the crowd 
could be quieted. With pistol in hand he stated that he would shoot 
the next man who attempted to lay hands upon the prisoner. He ordered 
that the victim's uncle who had started the trouble be taken into cus- 
tody. In half an hour troops marched into the court room. The Sheriff 
brought the prisoner in again and the Judge again warned the crowd 
that he would not tolerate any disorder. 

The trial proceeded and the jury, after hearing evidence for three 
hours, retired and returned within 15 minutes with a verdict of "guilty 
as charged". They had been instructed by the Judge that one of two 
possible verdicts could be returned, guilty of first degree murder or 
innocent. The prisoner did not testify, but sat through the trial dumbly, 
without moving. He heard his sentence of death pronounced apparently 
without comprehension. 

Upon pronouncement of the sentence the Sheriff led the prisoner down 
a lane of soldiers and out of the door which was immediately locked. 
Before the doors were unlocked and the crowd allowed to leave, the 
prisoner was on his way to Raleigh in an automobile. 

When the prisoner departed for Raleigh under sentence of death 
it was just 66 hours after the girl had been killed. This was one of 
the rare times, if not the only time, that a court had ever sat through 
the Sabbath in North Carolina. It was also the first time that a Judge 
had ever handled a pistol on the bench. 

He was tried a second time at Pittsboro on June 10, 1928. Two 
details of the National Guard were present. The testimony given at the 
first trial was repeated and the verdict and sentence were the same. 

Appeal to Supreme Court: 

Immediately following his sentence of death, the prisoner through 
his attorneys filed notice of appeal to the Supreme Court. He ap- 
pealed in forma pauperis. The name of only one of the two attorneys 
appointed by the court to defend the prisoner was signed to the appeal. 
The other lawyer said that he believed that the prisoner got "a fair 
trial", and that, therefore, he could not continue his efforts to keep 
him from the electric chair. Full details of the extradordinary attempt 
to take the prisoner from the bar during the progress of his trial were 
contained in the appeal. The record proper contains only four ex- 
ceptions, three being to testimony as to alleged confessions by the 
defendant and one to that portion of the Judge's charge in which he 
instructed that there was no evidence to justify a verdict of second 
degree murder or manslaughter, and that the jury confine their de- 
liberations to the alternative of guilty of murder in the first degree or 
not guilty. However, the two principal exceptions taken are not to the 
record proper but are based upon the following memorandum by the 
Judge who presided: 

"The prisoner was carried to the State Prison immediately after he 
was arrested and kept there until brought back for trial. Court was in 
session and a true bill was returned by the grand jury in a body. The 
court requested the older members of the Goldsboro Bar to confer with 



Capital Punishment 137 

liim and the solicitor upon the question of an immediate trial. It was 
the consensus of opinion that an immediate trial should be had, that 
owing to the atrocity of the crime and the high feeling that would 
necessarily follow the news of the murder, it would be impossible to 
secure a jury in the county of Wayne at a subsequent term of court. 
A trial was agreed upon, Messrs. A and B were appointed by the court 
to defend the prisoner, who was without funds, and every opportunity 
was afforded them for the preparation of the defense. Mr. A visited 
the prisoner in jail, and after a conference with him stated to the court 
that the only defense they could possibly interpose would be that of 
mental irresponsibility. The court then asked Mr. A if he wanted any 
experts in mental diseases to examine the prisoner and Mr. A informed 
the court that he wanted the Superintendent of the Colored Insane 
Asylum at Goldsboro to examine the prisoner. The court then had the 
superintendent called over the phone and he very readily consented to 
visit the prisoner and examine him; and this was done. The superin- 
tendent was thereafter used as a State's witness, and his testimony ap- 
pears in the case on appeal. There was no request for a continuance 
and no motion made at any time for a mistrial. The case on appeals 
shows each and every move made during the trial, except what now 
follows: 

"While Deputy Sheriff C was on the witness stand and while the 
court room was crowded to its full capacity, the father of the deceased 
girl and her uncle, approached the prisoner and, before anyone was aware 
of his intentions, seized the prisoner by the collar of his coat and at- 
tempted to drag him from the bar and into the main body of the court 
room toward the front door. A number of persons in the audience 
shouted 'take him, take him!' and a part of the crowd attempted to 
assist the two brothers; but the greater part of the audience either re- 
mained standing or attempted to get out of the doors. The sheriff rushed 
into the crowd, seized the prisoner, wrested him away from the girl's 
uncle and took him into the jury room, immediately to the rear of 
the witness stand. He left the prisoner in the jury room with a deputy, 
returned to the court room, and as the audience was in somewhat of 
a turmoil, fired his pistol at the ceiling in order to quell the tumult. 
The court ordered the Sheriff and his deputies to stand by and prevent 
any further demonstration and stated to the audience that any further 
attempt upon the life of the prisoner would be met by force. The local 
military company had been directed by the Adjutant General to hold 
itself in readiness in case of an emergency, and it had been agreed that 
the company should assemble in the armory and be in full uniform by 
9:30 o'clock on Sunday morning when the court assembled to continue 
the trial. The signal for help was to ring the courthouse bell, which 
was done; and in a few minutes soldiers came into the court room, some 
six or seven of them, and formed a cordon about the prisoner during 
the remainder of the trial. There was no further demonstration and 
the trial proceeded in an orderly manner. During the foregoing dem- 
onstration the jury sat in perfect order and did not appear to be at 
all disturbed; and the court charged them, as appears from the case, 
not to be influenced by what had occurred. This memorandum is made 
by the court of its own motion, for the information of the Supreme Court, 
as no exception was taken by the prisoner at the time". 

The appeal was denied. 

Statements of the Prisoner: 

While awaiting the hearing of his appeal by the Supreme Court, the 
prisoner from his cell in death row at the State Prison made repeated 



138 Capital Punishment 

statements that he had been regularly employed by the father of the 
murdered girl to help him manufacture liquor; that he was paid a gallon 
of whiskey for each "run" and that he was drunk on the white man's 
liquor when he attacked his daughter. This statement was made in 
the presence of the Superintendent of the State Prison, a State welfare 
worker and three newspaper men. 

Investigation of the prisoner's story resulted in partial corroboration 
and partial denial. The prisoner's father said that his son had told him 
that he had been working for the girl's father at his still, and that on 
several occasions the prisoner had brought liquor home, saying that it 
had just been made. The prisoner's wife said that he was often away 
from home at night, many times all night, and that she did not know 
where he went. 

Following directions given by the prisoner, a trip was made from 
the home in Avhich the father of the murdered girl lived at the time of 
the crime to the place where, according to the prisoner, the whiskey 
was made. Tlie remains of fires were found near a spring, as the prisoner 
liad described the place, and an open spot in the dense thicket bore 
signs of recent activity there. Nearby, partly hidden in the thick under- 
growth, a copper still was found. The boiler had been cut with an 
ax in many places, and these cuts apparently had been made not long 
before the discovery of the still by the investigators. 

Evidence against the prisoner's story came from the father of the 
murdered girl himself, who claimed that the still in question belonged 
to a man. D, who lived in the same house before he did. He further 
stated that the still had been abandoned before he went there to live 
two years previous. 

The records- show a man, D, arrested for illicit distilling about four 
years prior to the finding of the still in question; and other information 
brings to light the fact that D has not lived in the county for almost 
four years. 

The girl's father stated further that he not only had never made any 
whiskey, but also had never bought any. He denied the prisoner's state- 
ment in toto, and said that the only time the prisoner had worked for 
him was for half a day when he had hired him to do some plowing; 
that though he knew whiskey was being made in the community, he 
himself had never seen a still "rigged up". White people of the neigh- 
borhood arid a deputy sheriff stated that the girl's father bore a very 
good reputation in the community. 

Mental Condition: 

Great difficulty was experienced in making a satisfactory diagnosis 
because the examiner is of the opinion that the prisoner was never of 
normal general intelligence, and thinks it doubtful whether there had 
not been some deterioration, thus making him lower than he was 
originally. His chronological age was 23 years (1928); his mental age, 
five years, six months; his basal age, three years, eight months; and 
his intelligence quotient, 34. In addition to his subnormality in general 
intelligence, he was decidedly psychopathic. 



CASE S 




Prisoner; Negro, b. Baltimore, Mel., September 25, 1889 

Charge: First Degree Burglary 

Sentence: Death 

Sentence Commuted to Life Imprisonment 

Mental Diagnosis: Chronological Age: 38 Years (1927) 
Mental Age: 11 Years, 9 Months 
Intelligence Quotient: 73. 



Physical Characteristics : 

The prisoner is five feet, seven inches in height, and weighs 135 pounds. 
He has coarse features, piercing eyes, dark brown skin and kinky hair 
and moustache. He reports an attack of typhoid fever. Otherwise, his 
health has been good. He is 3 8 years old (1927) having been horn in 
Baltimore, Md., September 25, 1889. 

Family History : 

His maternal grandfather died in Baltimore of cancer in 1908. His 
maternal grandmother, who was born in California, also died in Balti- 
more in 1912. Her age and cause of death are unknown. JMo trace could 
be found of his paternal grandparents. 

His mother was born in California and died in Baltimore in 1925 
at the age of 7 6 years, cause of death unknown. She had two sisters 
and two brothers, all of whom are living, but no data a,bout them can 
be secured. 

The prisoner never knew his father. ■ , . 

He has one brother, 45 years old, and one sister, 47 years old, both 
of whom are living. One brother died in infancy. 

Early Home Conditions: 

The birth status of the prisoner could not be determined, but he is 
probably illegitimate. He was born in a two story, seven room brick 
dwelling which was occupied by six members of his family and for 
which they paid $23.00 a month rent. ' 



140 Capital Punishment 

Education: 

Although he was 18 years old when he reached the fifth grade in 
school, his attitude toward school was good and he excelled in arith- 
metic, although he was very backward in spelling. 

Occupations : 

He was employed as fireman in a round house of the C. and O. Rail- 
road in Baltimore where he worked for seven years, earning a salary 
of $5.20 a day. However, as he wanted to make more money he gave 
up this job and began working for the Chesapeake Coal Mining Com- 
pany in Virginia. After working with this company for three years 
at a salary of from $6.00 to $9.00 a day, he grew "tired of ducking cold 
weather", and returned to the C. and O. Railroad, this time working 
for three years as fireman and receiving $5.20 a day. In 1920 he re- 
turned to Baltimore and opened the Star Pressing Club. Because of 
much traffic in liquor at this club, he said he arranged to have police 
protection for which he paid from $5.00 to $17.00 a week. 

During one period of escape from prison he was engaged as a boot- 
legger in Cherrytown. 

Previous Arrests: 

In August, 1920, he was arrested for receiving stolen goods and was 
sentenced to five years in the Maryland State Prison. He escaped, and 
moved to Arlington, Va. Soon after his arrival in Arlington, he was 
arrested for burglary, and sentenced to 10 years in the Virginia State 
Prison, but was transferred to the Castlewood Camp in Wise County, 
Virginia. Near the end of 1924, he again escaped and went to Char- 
lotte, N. C, by way of Spartanburg, S. C. His record shows three or 
four other convictions, one for housebreaking, the others for stealing. 
No violence was offered in any. 

Marital Record: 

He had been promiscuous in his relations with women and had lived 
with one before his marriage to a woman of Waxhaw in Cherryville 
in 1924. 

At the time of his last conviction for first degree burglary, he was 
living with his wife in a rented six room, two story frame dwelling 
in Charlotte. A stepdaughter, aged 20, and a stepson, aged four, are 
now living with their mother in Charlotte. 

Habits, Characteristics and Reputation: 

He was addicted to the use of alcohol and tobacco. Although he was 
a member of the Lutheran Church in Baltimore, he attended infrequently. 
At the time of his conviction he had no church affiliation. 

Story of the Crime Charged: 

The prisoner was discovered at night in the home of a physician in 
Gastonia, N. C, while he was in the act of opening some drawers. He 
was in a downstairs room which was not a bed room and was not 
occupied as sleeping quarters by any of the people in the house. A 
pocket-book and some clothing were found scattered around on the 
floor. The doctor, a man of tremendous physique, weighing more than 
200 pounds, surprised the prisoner who is small and weighs about 135 
pounds. The prisoner who attempted to escape through a window, but 
was caught, and thrown on the floor where he still struggled in his 
attempt to escape. When brought to the police station he was uncon- 
scious as a result of the doctor having pounded his head on the floor. 

Evidence showed that the prisoner was unarmed and had been drink- 
ing heavily. He had a flashlight on his person, but nothing else of 



Capital Punishment 141 

value. When questioned at the jail, he stated that he did not remember 
having gone into the house, nor anything that happened thereafter until 
he regained consciousness in his cell. He stated further that he was 
so drunk that he did not know what he was doing. 

Incidents of the Trial: 

At the time of the trial, the prisoner's attorneys offered to submit 
to second degree burglary which the acting Solicitor accepted. How- 
ever, as the Solicitor was sick and the doctor whose house had been 
entered protested, the submission was not tendered. 

The prisoner was convicted of first degree burglary and was sen- 
tenced to death at the April, 19 27, term of Superior Court of Gaston 
County. 

After the trial, his attorneys went in behalf of their client to the 
presiding Judge, who told them that he did not feel that there was 
such serious aggravation that the prisoner merited the death sentence. 
However, he said that as the jury had brought in a verdict of guilty 
of first degree burglary, under the law he would be compelled to pass 
the death sentence, but he would request that the Governor commute 
the sentence to life imprisonment, and he felt sure that the Governor 
would assist the court in making this change. 

Commutation of Sentence: 

Immediately after the prisoner's conviction and sentence, a petition 
requesting executive clemency was received by the Governor. This 
petition was signed by more than 300 representative white citizens of 
Gaston County, including all 12 jurors who tried the case. The petition 
requested that the sentence be commuted from death to life imprison- 
ment "by reason of the fact that the evidence disclosed and the cir- 
cumstances surrounding the commission of the crime indicated that the 
offense is not of sufficient aggravation to warrant the death penalty". 

In addition to the petition, letters in behalf of the prisoner, recom- 
mending commutation of sentence were received from the trial Judge, 
the Solicitor, a large dumber of the local bar, many prominent white 
and Negro ministers, the Commander of the Gaston Post of the Amer- 
ican Legion, the Sheriff, Clerk of the Superior Court, Clerk of the Board 
of County Commissioners, Register of Deeds, and Superintendent of 
Welfare, all Gaston County officials. The substance of these letters 
was "that the facts and circumstances in this case did not merit the 
infliction of the death penalty". 

The Recorder of Gaston County who found probable cause in this 
case states: 

"My feeling at the time, after hearing all of the evidence, was that 
the offense had been clearly technically committed. I then felt and 
now feel upon the evidence that the Negro entered to commit larceny, 
certainly without intent at the time of entering to commit anything 
more heinous. He was unarmed, small of stature and made every ef- 
fort to effect an escape without the offer of violence. The appeal for 
consideration, be it to their great credit, comes from the ruling class 
in behalf of a strange Negro in whom they absolutely have no other 
interest than to see justice meted out and they desire to encourage a 
righteous and just fulfillment of the spirit of the law. It would be 
easy from certain standpoints to pass the matter up and let the case 
take the course leading to the electric chair. Likely it would soon 
be forgotten and the matter ended from some viewpoints, but the 
matter of community conscience would remain for a long while uneasy 
with the feeling that a wrong had been worked by an excessive and 
unnecessary demand of the law". 



142 Capital Punishment 

In a letter addressed to the Pardon Commissioner under date of May 
23, 1927, the Governor said, "Generally speaking, I am not in favor 
of inflicting the death penalty for burglary unless the facts disclose a 
very unusual case". 

The only opposition to executive clemency came in a letter from the 
doctor into whose house the prisoner had entered. He wrote: 

"I take it that intent of the law was and is to make our homes safe 
for our wives and children in our absence as well as for our own pro- 
tection when at home. If this law does not fit his crime, then I feel 
sure that it should never have been considered and should be taken 
from the statutes". 

The following statement from a letter to the Governor from a promi- 
nent attorney of Gastonia is interesting for comparative purposes: 

"At the term of court following that at which the prisoner was con- 
victed, I represented a white man who was charged with the same 
offense and who probably was even more guilty in that he entered a 
room in which a little white girl was sleeping and placed his hands upon 
her person, but I succeeded in keeping the matter out of the news- 
papers, plead guilty of second degree, and got him off with a two 
year sentence. Consequently, I feel that just because it was a prominent 
citizen's home which was entered, there should not be such marked 
difference in the punishment. But the responsibility for that is on the 
court — not you". 

The prisoner's attorneys gave notice of appeal to the Supreme Court, 
but failed to prosecute it, although he was allowed to appeal in forma 
pauperis. Due to his failure to prosecute the appeal, motion of the 
Attorney General to docket and dismiss was allowed. January 6, 1928, 
was then set as a new date for the prisoner's electrocution. In order 
to give the Pardon Commissioner more time a investigate the case, 
the Governor granted a reprieve of one day, which set January 27 as 
the date of electrocution. On January 23, 1928, the Governor com- 
muted the prisoner's sentence from death to life imprisonment. 

Mental Condition: 

The prisoner's chronological age is 3 8 years (1927). His mental 
age is 11 years, nine months; his basal age is 9 years; and his intelli- 
gence quotient 73. The range of his successes in the tests was between 
the nine and the 14 year groups. 



CASE T 




Prisoner: Negro, b. Franklin County, North Carolina, 1899 

Charge: Rape 

Sentence: Death 

Sentence Commuted to Life Imprisonment 

Present Location: Criminal Department, State Hospital for 
Negro Insane at Goldsboro 

Mental Diagnosis: High Grade Imbecile and Epileptic 
Chronological Age: 18 Years 
Mental Age: 6 Years, 4 Months 
Intelligence Quotient: 40. 



Physical Characteristics : 

The prisoner is five feet, four inches in height, and weighs 130 pounds. 
He has dark brown skin, a receding forehead, flat nose, bad teeth and 
high palate. His Wassermann test is negative and he has no history 
of syphilis. He complains of a general feeling of lassitude. He is 
18 years old, having been born in Franklin County, North Carolina, in 
1899. 

He was apparently normal at birth, although a very large child. Some 
time between the age of two and three years he had his first spasm 
which apparently was not preceded by any illness. According to all 
evidence, the convulsions occurred at very frequent intervals until he 
was about five or six years old — sometimes as often as two or three 
times a week. From the time he was six years old until within the 
last year or two he had, on an average, two or three spasms a month. 
For the last year they have occurred about once a month, sometime 
skipping a month or two. Recently they have grown more severe and 
of longer duration. There seems a marked tendency for the convulsions 
to occur at night, usually starting on the left side. 

Family History: 

His father is dead — cause of death unknown. He seemed, however, 
to be normal. His mother is living and appears to be below normal 



144 Capital Punishment 

mentally, is unreliable in her statements and excitable. Although capable 
of doing routine farm work, she is considered by the community to be 
"crazy". She has one sister whose three children are epileptics. One 
of these is of a very low grade of mentality; the other two are able 
to get along fairly well on a low level. 

The prisoner has three older brothers living and three older sisters 
living and married. Seven younger brothers died in infancy. One older 
sister died after she was grown. 

It was very difficult to get a history of this family or of the prisoner 
because nothing like a clear story could be obtained from the mother 
and very little reliance could be placed on what she said. Such facts 
however, as were obtained were corroborated by the testimony of two 
or three other people. 

Education : 

The prisoner was sent to school for various lengths of time over a 
period of three or four years, but he made no progress in his studies. 
He can read and write only a very little. 

Occupations : 

He was capable of doing only routine farm labor, and then under 
supervision, as he had a tendency to forget what he was doing and 
wander away whenever a definite task was assigned him. Three or 
four years ago he wandered away from home and was lost for two or 
three days. 

Marital Record: 

The prisoner is unmarried. He says that he has had sex experiences 
since he was a small boy, and does not see anything wrong about it. 

Habits, Cliaract eristics and Reputation: 

He claims that he never used tobacco in any form, and that he never 
tasted whiskey or other intoxicating liquors. He says that he joined 
the Baptist Church when he was 11 years old because his people wished 
him to join. Before the crime for which he was convicted he had no 
criminal record. 

Since he entered the State Hospital for the Negro Insane, July 15, 
1927, he seems to be happy-go-lucky and lazy, with no idea of time 
— month, season or year, nor of how long he has been there. He helps 
a little about the wards, but the attendants have to keep behind him 
in order to get him to do anything like sweeping or making beds. He 
has rather a good disposition and seems to have no difficulties with 
the other patients. Since his commitment no friends or relatives have 
visited him at the hospital. He does not seem to care that no one 
comes to see him or writes to him, and apparently he does not realize 
what a life sentence means. 

Story of the Crime Charged: 

Evidence presented at the trial was to the effect that the prisoner 
committed the crime of rape on a little white girl three and a half 
years old. The prisoner says that the child used to come with her 
brother to his house to play with his younger brothers and sister, and 
that on some of these visits the child would follow him around, and 
he would stop and play with her. 

One day while they were a little way from the house in a small 
pine thicket, the prisoner attempted to assault the child. Returning 
home, she told enough to cause his arrest. In speaking of the crime, 
the prisoner does not seem to think that he did anything especially 
wrong. 



Capital Punishment 145 

During the trial evidence of the prisoner's mental weakness, epilepsy 
and probable insanity was presented. However, the jury found that he 
had mind enough to be capable of committing a crime; that is, mind 
enough to know right from wrong. He was convicted of rape at the 
May, 1927, term of Superior Court of Franklin County and was sen- 
tenced to death by electrocution. 

Because of his observation of the prisoner during the trial, the Judge 
recommended that he be placed under observation by those qualified to 
pass on his mental status. 

Commutation of Sentence: 

Immediately after his conviction numerous petitions signed by rep- 
resentative citizens, white and Negro, in Franklin County were pre- 
sented to the Governor, asking executive clemency because of the pris- 
oner's apparently low mentality. Convinced by evidence presented by 
experts and medical authorities that the prisoner had the mind of a' 
six-year-old child, the Commissioner of Pardons recommended commu- 
tation of the death sentence. 

In commuting his sentence, the Governor issued the following state- 
ment: 

"Upon investigation by the Commissioner of Pardons I am advised 
that the following facts exist: 

"The prisoner is a colored boy of the age of eighteen or nineteen years. 
That he has no previous criminal record. Upon examination by three 
reputable physicians, such examination having been made at different 
times, and the examination of these physicians dating over a period of 
about three weeks, by practicing physicians who are non-residents of 
Franklin County and who have no personal interest in the case, a report 
has been made by each physician that the prisoner is feebleminded and 
is similar in mental development to a normal child of the age of six 
years. 

"The prisoner's past life history shows that the boy from birth has 
displayed a low order of mentality, that he has been subject to epileptic 
fits over a period of years. And affidavits filed by eight reputable white 
people who live near the same farm on which the Negro prisoner was 
working set forth the fact that the prisoner has been subject to epilep- 
tic fits and has always been considered and adjudged by all who knew 
him as a boy of unsound mind and incapable of knowing right from 
wrong. 

"The Commissioner of Pardons obtained the examination by these 
physicians after having been requested to examine the Negro's mentality 
by the trial Judge, who states as follows, 'It is a case, which in my 
opinion, should receive consideration and I therefore recommend that 
this man be placed under observation by those in position and qualified 
to judge, so that a full and correct estimate of his mental capacity may 
he had and laid before you and the Governor'. 

"In addition to the request of the trial Judge, the nature of the crime 
committed by this prisoner is such that it would indicate mental de- 
ficiency and a further examination was made by Dr. A of the State Hos- 
pital for the Insane at Raleigh, N. C. 

"Dr. A gave the prisoner a very careful mental and physical examin- 
ation and reports that in his opinion the prisoner is of a subnormal 
type and a high grade imbecile and one whose mind has developed equal 
to that of a normal six year old child. Dr. A further reports that in 
his opinion the prisoner is incapable of knowing right from wrong and 
recommends that the prisoner be commuted to life imprisonment and 



146 Capital Punishment 

committed to the Criminal Insane Department of the State Hospital for 
the Insane for the Colored at Goldsboro, N. C. 

"In view of the report filed by reputable physicians, who have made 
a careful examination of the mental condition of this prisoner, and acting 
upon the opinion of not only men qualified to understand the mental 
condition of this prisoner by reason of their medical training but also 
upon the affidavits by neighbors who have had the opportunity of ob- 
serving the prisoner from childhood, and mindful of the fact that a 
large group of Franklin County citizens have petitioned that by reason 
of the low mental condition of this prisoner he be commuted to life 
imprisonment, and believing that the prisoner was incapable of knowing 
right from wrong within the meaning of the law at the time the crime 
was committed, and that the prisoner is an imbecile, I do therefore com- 
mute the prisoner from the sentence of death to life imprisonment, with 
the recommendation that the prisoner be examined for the purpose of 
committing him to the Criminal Insane Department of the State Hospital 
for the Colored at Goldsboro, N. C." 

Mental Condition: 

The prisoner is a high grade imbecile. His chronological age is 18 
years; his mental age, six years and four months; his basal age, five 
years; and his intelligence quotient 40. 



CASE U 




Prisoner: Negro, b. Halifax County, North Carolina, 1902(?) 

Charge: First Degree Murder 

Sentence: Death 

Sentence Commuted to Life Imprisonment 

Present Location: Criminal Department, State Hospital for 

Negro Insane, Goldsboro, N. C. 
Mental Diagnosis: Feebleminded with Psychopathic Tendencies 

Chronological Age: 25 Years (1927) (?) 

Basal Age: 2 Years 

Intelligence Quotient: 16. 



Physical Characteristics: 

The prisoner is five feet, eight inches in height, and weighs 165 pounds. 
He has light brown skin, good teeth, straight hair and blue eyes. Exami- 
nation showed him to be in good physical condition. Wassermann test 
negative. He is about 25 years old, having been born in Halifax County, 
North Carolina, in 1902 (?). 

He had the usual diseases of childhood, was sick a great deal when 
a child, and after growing up had several attacks of what was sup- 
posed to be malaria — a fever of some kind. 

He is reported to have had some kind of fits at intervals, and usually 
at night, since early childhood. After these he would be quite stupid 
in the morning and complain of being sore in his limbs and of having 
a headache. His tongue and sometimes his lips would show signs of 
having been injured. These seizures have continued until the present 
time. 

Family History: 

His father, who is living, has been a heavy drinker, . and is in poor 
health, suffering from chronic heart disease. His mother also is living 
and in poor health, the character of her illness not determined. 



148 Capital Punishment 

The prisoner is a member of a family of nine children, four hoys 
and five girls. Three younger brothers live at home and help the father 
with his farm. The prisoner's three older sisters are married and seem 
to be in good health. Two younger sisters died in infancy. 

Education : 

The prisoner attended a rural school rather irregularly during several 
winters. Because of his mental deficiency and also on account of his 
sickness and work at home he was greatly retarded. 

Occupations : 

He worked on his father's farm until he was quite a big boy, and 
then worked for the neighbors. After he was of age, he drifted about, 
working sometimes as a farm hand, and at other times at odd jobs. 
He was industrious by spells, but sometimes very indolent and shiftless. 

Marital Record: 

He married when he was about 20 years old. His wife gave birth 
to four children, two of whom died when they were a few months old. 

Habits, Characteristics and Reputation: 

He habitually associated with bad company and drank liquor when 
he could get it. When he was among good associates and away from 
liquor he was considered fairly industrious. 

Story of the Crime Charged: 

On July 26, 19 26, at eight or half-past eight o'clock in the evening, 
A, a jitney driver in the town of Hollister, Halifax County, was em- 
ployed to make a trip down into Nash County where the prisoner lived. 
He had in his car B, C, and the prisoner. Soon after arriving at the 
prisoner's home, the driver of the car. A, was shot twice and almost 
instantly killed. The State contended that the deceased was shot and 
killed by the prisoner. On the other hand, the defense contended that 
C did the shooting, while the prisoner was in the house and away from 
the scene of the homicide. 

It was in the evidence that the deceased was shot with a gun belong- 
ing to the prisoner; that the car with A's body in it was driven to a 
bridge some distance away, where the bloody foot-mat of the car was 
thrown into the creek; that the car was driven from there to another 
creek where A's body was thrown into the water; that a watch taken 
from the prisoner was A's watch; and that when A's body was found 
his watch chain was in the button-hole of his shirt; and that a knife 
taken from the prisoner was similar to one owned by A. The evidence 
further disclosed the fact that early in the morning after the night of 
the homicide the prisoner came to the house of D, driving A's auto- 
mobile, and wanted to borrow some license plates. There was other 
evidence tending to show the prisoner's guilt. 

Testifying in his own behalf, the prisoner said that he was invited 
by B and C to ride with them in A's car, as they were going down into 
Nash County, by the prisoner's home. This he consented to do and 
upon arriving at his house, he said, they all stopped for water. Taking 
advantage of the delay, the prisoner went into the house to get supper. 
Soon after he began eating, C came to the door and wanted to borrow 
a gun, saying that he (C), B and A were going down the road to get 
some whiskey and that they might need the gun before they got back. 
According to the prisoner's testimony, C took the gun and went out 
to the car. In a very short time, the prisoner said, he heard two shots. 
He ran to the"door and saw C with the gun. C told the prisoner that 
he shot A because he would not carry him and B to get the whiskey. 



Capital Punishment 149 

The prisoner further testified that after the killing, he was forced 
by C, under threats of death, to get in the car and go with them; that 
they finally let him out of the car near Hollister after repeatedly threaten- 
ing to kill him if he dared tell what had happened. 

The jury rejected this version of the crime. In corroboration of the 
State's evidence and in support of its theory of the case, the prosecu- 
tion undertook to show that the deceased was employed by the prisoner 
to make the trip in question, and not by B and C, as the defendant 
contended. 

The prisoner was convicted of first degree murder at the October, 1924, 
term of Superior Court of Nash County and was sentenced to death. 

Commutation of Sentence: 

After being committed to the State Prison, the prisoner showed signs 
of mental derangement, and his condition was called to the attention 
of the Governor. He was then placed under observation, and a very 
careful examination was made into his mental condition by two com- 
petent physicians. These physicians and other persons who had occasion 
to observe the prisoner advised the Governor that there was no ques- 
tion that he was insane, and had been for several months. The Gov- 
ernor, however, hesitated to commute his sentence to life imprison- 
ment and reprieved him four times in order to satisfy himself fully as 
to whether or not the prisoner was actually insane or merely feigning 
insanity. The Commissioner of Pardons gave the case his most careful 
consideration and personal attention by visiting the prisoner and obtain- 
ing data concerning him; following which the Commissioner advised 
the Governor that in his opinion, from all facts obtainable, there could 
be no question that the prisoner was actually insane. 

On September 5, 1925, the Governor issued the following statement: 
"It is with reluctance that I interfere with the sentence of the pris- 
oner, who was fairly convicted in the courts of so horrible a crime; 
however, it seems to me to be repugnant to the tenets of society and 
civilization to cause the death of a man who is insane, even though the 
offence committed by him may be an aggravated one. While no pun- 
ishment can be too severe for this prisoner, if sane, the dictates of 
humanity force me to the conclusion that, on account of his mental 
condition, there is no other fair and reasonable course to follow, other 
than to commute his sentence to life imprisonment and I have, there- 
fore, relieved the prisoner of the penalty of death, solely and entirely 
because of his mental status". 

Mental Condition: 

The prisoner is feebleminded with psychopathic tendencies. His chrono- 
logical age is approximately 25 years; his basal age is two years; and 
his intelligence quotient is 16. 

He gave a very unsatisfactory examination due to the circumstances 
surrounding his commitment. The examiner has positive evidence that 
the prisoner was pretending to be of lower grade than the examination 
disclosed. In test two in the three year group the prisoner called a 
key a spoon, and a pencil a writing piece, and the examiner was unable 
to secure a more definite answer. Approximately 20 minutes later, when 
asked to hand the key to the examiner, the prisoner reached immediately 
for the key, and the pencil was treated in the same way. Other proof 
of similar nature was obtained. 



CASE V 




Prisoner: Negro, b. Cumberland County, N. C, June 1, 1887 

Charge: First Degree Murder 

Sentence: Death 

Electrocuted December 9, 1927 

Mental Diagnosis: Definitely Feebleminded. 



Physical Characteristics : 

The prisoner was a strapping Negro who weighed more than 200 pounds 
and was six feet, two inches in height. He had dark brown skin, brown 
eyes, and kinky hair. He was 40 years old, having been born in Cum- 
berland County, North Carolina, on June 1, 1887. 

He had never been ill except for "a few pains". Examination showed 
him to be in splendid physical condition. 

Family History: 

For several generations there had been more or less insanity in the 
prisoner's family. His father and mother were legally married, and 
he had nine brothers and sisters. 

Early Home Conditions: 

Next to the oldest child in his family, the prisoner was born in a 
one-room log cabin located in a rural section of Cumberland County. In 
his home the sleeping conditions were very poor, only one bed and two 
pallets were used by the 12 occupants of this hut. 

Education : 

He never attended school. 
Occupations : 

At an early age he began to help in the farm activities of his com- 
munity. He left home for the first time when he was 16 years old, 
going then to Hoke County, where he secured employment as a farm 
hand. He did work of this kind uninterruptedly until his last arrest. 
For the last two or three years before his conviction he received 50 per 



Capital Punishment 151 

cent annually of the products of a cotton farm of which the yearly 
average was 16 to 18 bales. He had been connected with some liquor 
deals to which may be traced the cause of his last trouble. 

Previous Arrest: 

Previous to his conviction for murder he had trouble with a family 
of Negroes, one of whom was later a witness for the State at his murder 
trial. The cause of this trouble was that one of the boys of this family 
carried the prisoner's daughter away from home, took her money and 
gave her cocaine, threatening to kill her father if she mentioned it to 
him. Soon after the girl returned home, there was a shooting affair 
between the boy's family and the prisoner in which the latter was as- 
saulted with a knife and pistol by one of the boys and his mother. The 
prisoner shot the boy, and was indicted by the Hoke County Grand Jury, 
but was never brought to trial. The white people of the community 
were so incensed against the boy and his family that it was openly said 
in the town of Raeford that a mob should form and drive them out of 
the county. 

Marital Record: 

At the age of 21 the prisoner married. Five children were born of 
this union. The age of the youngest is five years, and the oldest, 
a girl, is 20 years old. For two or three years before his conviction 
the prisoner, his wife and children had been living in a two room frame 
dwelling which he rented. 

Habits, Characteristics and Reputation: 

The prisoner smoked and used whiskey to excess. When he was at 
leisure his chief activity was fishing. As far as could be learned, he got 
on very well with his parents. He had always borne a good reputation 
until June, 1927, when he shot the Negro boy. He was a typical "white 
man's nigger", would accommodate white people in any way he could, 
and was very popular with them until he killed the white man for 
whose murder he .was electrocuted. 

He was extremely egotistic, and was quick to resent insult or injustice, 
although he did not harbor malice. 

f 
Story of the Crime Charged: 

A, the white man with whose murder the prisoner was charged, lived 
in Raeford, N. C, and had a farm in the county six or seven miles away. 
The homicide occurred at this farm about two o'clock in the afternoon 
on August 12, 1927. 

B, a brother of the deceased, had a grist mill which was not far from 
the prisoner's home. Early in the morning of the day of the homicide 
the prisoner saw the deceased at this mill and went from the mill to 
C's, thence to D's in Cumberland County, and then back to C's to get 
his wife who had been there since Thursday. In the meantime the 
deceased had returned to his farm. 

The prisoner and his wife on their return from C's place were travelling 
in a two-seated open car. On the way home they went by the farm where 
A, the deceased, and E were doing some work about the barn. There 
the roads crossed, and the prisoner turned from the Puppy Creek Road 
into the Mail Road, stopped his car and called to the deceased. 

As to the subsequent events, there is sharp conflict in the evidence. 
E, one of the Negro boys who had attacked the prisoner in the previous 
shooting affray and who lived about 100 yards away, testified for the 
State as follows: 



152 Capital Punishment 

"About two o'clock I was in the porch and I saw the car drive up 
there and turn off right there and stop. I looked down the road and 
I saw Mr. A come up to the car. He came up there, and he put his 
foot upon the running board, and he talked to who was in there, but, 
mind you, I didn't know it was the prisoner. He talked a few minutes, 
about as long as I have been sitting here, I guess, and he took his foot 
off the running board, and he sort of turned away — he was this way 
(illustrating), and he turned away, and I think they were done talk- 
ing, and by this time the shooting took place, and Mr. A turned, stumbled 
over that way, and he went over that way, and the car pulled out, and 
he went back there a few steps and he fell. I know he just fell — about 
the length of himself he fell — I think that. I heard two shots. When 
the shots were fired Mr. A wasn't anywhere from the automobile. He 
had just passed the hind end of the car, going that way. The car was 
going that way, and he hadn't turned far enough from the car to be 
anyways from it. He hadn't went nowhere from it, he didn't have time 
to go nowhere from it. Mr. A went back that way as far as he did go. 
I don't know how he got down there, whether he just fell that far, or 
whether he walked a little bit before he fell. 

"After a short while I went up there to see where he was. He had 
disappeared out of my sight, and I went up there to see what, if I could 
discover where he was, and I seen him prostrated in the road there. He 
was just lying there, and I couldn't tell what condition he was in be- 
cause I didn't have any reason to trouble unless someone with authority, 
like a doctor, to put hands to him or nothing at all. I discovered, though, 
that he was dead. There wasn't any fussing or loud talking or anything 
like that. There was no fight of any kind. This was an open car, had 
a top on it, but I don't recall whether it was a one or two-seated car. 
Just whenever the pistol shot then the automobile pulled out. The engine 
of that car stopped running when he stopped there". 

Throughout his testimony the prisoner frequently referred to the de- 
ceased as "Mr. Paul", A's first name, a custom common among Negroes 
when addressing whites. This is important in view of what the prisoner 
alleged to have been the cause of the murder. He testified in part as 
follows: 

"I knew Mr. Paul all my life. I know all of the family. I worked 
with his father. I had known Mr. Paul 27 or 28 years. Mr. Paul A 
and me, nor any of his family, ever had any trouble. I never had any 
ill feeling towards him or any of his family. I saw Mr. Paul A on 
August 12. I first saw him on that day at Mr. B's mill, early that 
morning. 

"I left Mr. C's to go home, and going from Mr. C's to my home I must 
travel the Puppy Creek Road to the crossing of the Mail Road at Mr. 
A's place, turn in at the Mail Road to go to my house. I did not know 
that Mr. Paul A was at the farm until I got there. I did not expect to 
see him at all. When I saw Mr. Paul at the barn, I stopped to see if 
I could get some work from him and see if he wanted some corn. I 
had sold Mr. B 16 or 17 bushels of corn and I wanted to sell some more 
corn. 

"When I saw Mr. Paul at the barn I stopped and called, 'Hey, Mr. 
Paul!' and he came to the car immediately. He walked up on the left 
side of the car where I was sitting. My wife had a bag in the car, 
and when he came up to the car he asked what was in that bag. My 
wife replied, 'I have been off working'. I had a walking stick in the 
car between the back of the front seat and the coat rack. Mr. Paul 
grabbed the stick and said, 'I will team you how to call me "Paul"!' Mr. 



Capital Punishment 15S 

Paul took the stick and began hitting me. He struck me side of the 
face and on the back of the head, and I grabbed the pistol and shot 
him. The reason I had the stick, I had hurt my foot and had been 
using the stick for a walking stick. (The stick was produced in court 
and was identified by the prisoner as the one Mr. A had hit him with. 
It was of seasoned dogwood, about the usual size of a walking stick). 
It was not broken before Mr. Paul struck me with it. He struck me 
right there, on that bone (indicating cheek bone), and made that big 
scar, and he hit my head up there. I shot him while he was beating 
me. I wouldn't have done it for nothing. I was just knocked addled". 
The evidence is voluminous, but this is sufficient to give a background. 
The prisoner was convicted of murder in the first degree. 

Incidents of the Trial: 

After the killing, the prisoner had eluded a mob for a week before 
giving himself up to the Sheriff of Cumberland County. He denied that 
he had sought to escape the authorities, but said he had run from mob 
violence. After A was killed, very strong race feeling was aroused. The 
attorneys for the prisoner stated that "the defendant in this case was 
forced into the trial under conditions where it was impossible for any 
judge, however honest and sincere he might be, to render him a fair 
and impartial trial". 

The deceased had had a reputation for being intolerant and tyran- 
nical toward Negroes, and a large number of intelligent, unbiased white 
people in the community did not believe that the prisoner went to A's 
farm for the purpose of creating any trouble whatever. There was a 
profound undercurrent of sentim-ent in behalf of the prisoner among 
the best white people of Hoke County, but because of the many influences 
against him these people who were favorable to him were afraid to 
make themselves known and to express their honest convictions. 

Petition for Clemency and Reprieve: 

A petition for executive clemency signed by a large number of promi- 
nent white citizens of Hoke County was presented to the Governor after 
the prisoner's conviction. In the meantime, the prisoner's appeal to 
the Supreme Court was heard, his case reviewed, but the court could 
find no error, and declined to order a new trial. 

Immediately following the handing down of the opinion by the Supreme 
Court, the Governor granted a reprieve of 30 days to permit the Par- 
don Commissioner to investigate the case more fully. The Commis- 
sioner's investigation disclosed nothing that the Governor regarded as 
justifying him in setting aside the verdict of the jury as the prisoner 
admitted the killing. The only question was one of first or second 
degree murder. 

In denying the prisoner's application for commutation of sentence, 
the Governor issued the following statement: 

"The prisoner, through his attorneys, having made application that 
the sentence of the prisoner be commuted from death to life imprison- 
ment, I find the following to be the facts: 

"After two hearings at which time witnesses were examined, and 
after reviewing the evidence and thoroughly discussing the case with 
the Commissioner of Pardons, who made a personal investigation, I 
find that the prisoner was ably represented by experienced attorneys at 
the time of trial in the Superior Court and that through his attorneys 
he appealed to the Supreme Court and that the judgment of the Superior 
Court was affirmed. I further find from the trial Judge, that the pris- 
oner was given a fair trial before a jury from Scotland County com- 



154 Capital Punishment 

posed of men who were representative citizens of Scotland County, some 
of whom are personally known to me as men who would always be con- 
scientious and fair in rendering a verdict. After carefully reviewing all 
of the facts and evidence surrounding the trial of the case I find that 
the prisoner was given a fair trial in the Superior Court and I further 
find that no new evidence has been presented to me which if it had 
been presented at the time of the trial would have changed the verdict 
of the jury. In view of the fact that it is within the province of the 
jury and the courts to hear and pass on the law and the facts in a 
case, and that after a most thorough investigation and two hearings of 
the evidence offered by the attorneys for the defendant I do not find 
any new evidence which has developed since the trial that materially 
differs from that offered in the court, I feel that it becomes my official 
duty to uphold the verdict of the jury and the due process of the law. 
For that reason the apiplication is declined". 

The Pardon Commissioner broke the news to the doomed man in his 
cell on death row. When the prisoner heard that he must die, he 
took it hard but did not attempt to argue as most condemned men do. 
He said bitterly, "There is no chance for a nigger. If it'd been a white 
man they wouldn't done anything to him. ... If it'd been a white man 
killed a nigger ....". 



CASE W 




Prisoner: Negro, b. Union County, North Carolina, May 2, 1893 

Charge: First Degree Murder 

Sentence: Death 

Sentence Commuted to Life Imprisonment 

Mental Diagnosis: Feebleminded, High Grade Moron 

Chronological Age: 35 Years (1928) 
Mental Age: 9 Years, 11 Months 
Intelligence Quotient: 62 



Physical Characteristics : 

The prisoner is five feet, 10 and three-quarter inches in height and 
weighs 15 4 pounds. He has a drooping head; thick, swarthy skin; and 
thick lips. He is 3 5 years old, having been born in Union County, North 
Carolina, on May 2, 1893. 

Family History: 

His paternal grandfather and grandmother are dead. She died from 
cancer. Both of his maternal grandparents, who were slaves, are also 
dead, and no information could be obtained as to their history. 

His father died of heart trouble at the age of 70 years. His mother, 
60 years old, is living, and seems to be in good health. 

The prisoner had nine sistei's and three brothers. One child died 
In infancy. His oldest sister died of heart disease when she was 37 
years old; another sister was murdered at the age of 3 5 by her hus- 
band who claimed that she did not care properly for their children. 
The prisoner's mother, however, states that the cause of the murder 
was that the husband, who was mentally unbalanced, suspected his wife 
of putting poison in his food. A third sister, who is employed in 
domestic service in Petersburg, Va., is the only one of the adult children 
of this family who seems to be of good character. An unmarried sister, 
20 years old, has a reputation for immorality. The whereabouts of the 
prisoner's brothers is unknown. 



156 Capital Punishment 

Early Home Conditions: 

A legitimate son of his father and mother, the prisoner was born in 
a rural section of Union County, North Carolina, where he made his 
home until he was convicted of murder. His family lived in a two story 
frame dwelling of six rooms, for which they paid a monthly rent of 
$15.00. On account of his low mentality, the prisoner is able to tell 
very little of his early life. 

Education : 

He attended the country school in his community, and completed the 
fourth grade. Only two of his brothers and sisters reached the seventh 
grade in school. All the others stopped in the third or fourth grade. 

Occupations : 

The prisoner's chief occupation was farming, and most of his work 
was done for white and colored landlords. He was drafted for service 
overseas in the American Expeditionary Force. When he returned from 
France he did not resume farming, but secured work with the Seaboard 
Railroad as a section hand. 

Previous Arrest: 

When he was 21 years old, the prisoner was arrested for selling half 
a pint of whiskey. This was probably not an isolated case. He was re- 
leased under bond, and before he was brought to trial he was drafted. 

Marital Record: 

After his discharge from the Army, he lived for four years with a 
woman 24 years old. Later he began to associate with another woman 
whom he married. They had two children, a girl four years old, and 
a boy who died of croup when he was a year old. 

Some time prior to his arrest for murder, the prisoner and his wife 
separated. She took the children and went to the home of her mother 
in Monroe, N. C. Soon she secured work as a domestic servant in this 
town and left both children at home with her mother so that she could 
go out to work. After their separation, the prisoner and his wife did 
not see each other nor communicate in any way. 

Habits, Characteristics and Reputation: 

For many years the prisoner had a reputation of handling liquor and 
fighting. 

Story of the Crime Charged 

On the Tuesday prior to the Friday, March 13, 1925, the prisoner 
went to the home of his wife's mother for the purpose of taking his 
infant child to the doctor to have him examined. The grandmother re- 
fused to permit him to take the child until her daughter consented to 
it. The prisoner left the house and came back again on Wednesday 
when the grandmother stated that her daughter said he could take 
the child to the doctor. The grandmother, however, said that all the 
child's clothes were dirty, and she did not want the prisoner to take 
the baby until she had a chance to wash his clothes, so that the father 
could take the clothes along with the child. She said that she could 
not have the child ready until Sunday. 

The prisoner left and returned again on Thursday, when the same 
conversation took place between him and the grandmother relative to 
his taking the child. On each day that he came to the house, Tuesday, Wed- 
nesday and Thursday, he came about 12 o'clock. On Friday he came 
again and made the same demands in regard to the child. The grand- 



Capital Punishment 157 

mother told him to go and see her daughter, telling him where she could 
be found. 

He left immediately and walked directly to his wife's place of em- 
ployment, reaching there before she left her work. He waited until 
she came out and walked with her in the direction of her mother's house, 
talking pleasantly about getting a house in which they could go to house- 
keeping. Here the story becomes rather confused because of the con- 
flicting testimony of the persons who were present. A family quarrel 
ensued, ending in the prisoner cutting the throat of his wife, severing 
the jugular vein to the bone. She soon died from loss of blood. He 
then cut his mother-in-law on her head, and stabbed a brother-in-law, 
18 years old. Immediately after these attacks, he fled, but was soon 
captured near the South Carolina line. At the trial the prisoner claimed 
that he used the knife on his wife, mother-in-law, and brother-in-law in 
self-defense, stating that they had "jumped on him" and had attempted 
to beat him. 

At the August, 1925, term of Superior Court of Union County he 
was tried for first degree murder, convicted and sentenced to death by 
electrocution. 

Conimutation of Sentence: 

Soon after the prisoner's conviction and sentence to death in the 
electric chair, numerous petitions in his behalf were presented to the 
Governor, the petitioners raising the question as to whether the element 
of premeditation was sufficient to justify his electrocution for first degree 
murder. The Commissioner of Pardons made a personal visit to Union 
County for the purpose of ascertaining pertinent facts, and especially 
in order to furnish the Governor with information on which to enable 
him to pass upon the question of commutation of the prisoner's death 
sentence to one of life imprisonment. 

The Commissioner of Pardons went very thoroughly over the scene of 
the homicide, that is, the house where the prisoner cut his wife's throat 
and injured two other members of her family; visited the locality be- 
tween the home of the wife's father, where she was staying, and the 
home of the white people a mile away, where she had been at work. 
It appears that the prisoner went to the place where his wife was em- 
ployed, between sundown and dark, and started back to her mother's, 
passing through a dense body of woods to a point approximately 50 
yards from the edge of the woods next to the home of her mother, 
where the pair were met by the mother-in-law. 

There was conflicting evidence as to whether the mother-in-law met 
the pair before or after they entered the woods. The mother-in-law 
informed the Commissioner specifically and definitely that she did not 
meet them until after they had crossed the ravine coming towards her 
house to a point approximately 60 yards from the edge of the wood. 
The mother-in-law also stated to the Commissioner that the couple were 
apparently in a friendly mood when she met them and continued so 
after entering her home up to the time of the homicide. 

On November 6, 19 25, the Governor issued the following statement: 

"The Commissioner of Pardons and I were both convinced that the 
murder was not one of first degree, but one of second degree, taking 
the view that if there was premeditation or desire to kill the wife it 
arose by reason of the Sheriff of Union County having instructed the 
prisoner at one o'clock on the day of the homicide that he must pro- 
vide support for his wife and that if such homicidal desire existed, the 
prisoner would have killed his wife when alone with her in the woods 
and would not have waited until he was in his mother-in-law's home, 



158 Capital Punishment 

in the presence of several people, among others, an 18 year old boy, 
who was standing within a few feet of the shot gun in plain view of 
the prisoner. Relying almost entirely on this simple fact, the prisoner's 
sentence has been commuted to life imprisonment. 

"It is my conviction and also that of the Commissioner of Pardons, 
however, that this prisoner is a violent and dangerous man and that 
he is a man of exceedingly bad reputation. It is a case, in my opinion, 
where for purely legal reasons, the death penalty should not be inflicted, 
but, at the same time I am equally convinced that it was one of the 
most bloody and cruel murders in the annals of North Carolina and 
for these reasons nothing further should ever be done for the prisoner". 

Mental Condition: 

The prisoner is feebleminded, a high grade moron. His chronological 
age is 35 years (1928); his mental age, nine years and 11 months; his 
basal age, eight years; and his intelligence quotient, 62. The range 
of his successes in the tests was from the eight to the 14 year group. 



CASE X 




Prisoner: Negro, b. Bennettsville, S. C, 1903 

Charge: First Degree Murder 

Sentence: Death 

Sentence Commuted to Life Imprisonment 

Mental Diagnosis: Feebleminded — Moron Type 

Chronological Age: 25 Years (1928) 
Mental Age: 9 Years, 3 Months 
Intelligence Quotient: 58. 



Physical Characteristics: 

The prisoner is a tall, slim Negro who weighs 140 pounds. He has 
dark brown skin. He is 2 5 years old, having been born at Bennetts- 
ville, S. C, in 1903. 

Family History: 

No trace of any relatives except his father and mother, who were 
farmers, could be found. The prisoner was the legitimate and only 
son of his parents. 

Education and Occupations: 

During all of his early life prior to his coming to North Carolina, 
he had very little opportunity or encouragement to attend school. As 
a boy he worked as a share cropper for two white farmers, holding one 
job for five years and the other for four. He also farmed with his 
parents. 

Habits, Characteristics and Reputation: 

Before being charged with murder, the prisoner had no court record, 
nor had he shown any vicious or criminal tendencies. 
Story of the Crime Charged: 

The prisoner was charged with having assaulted a white man with 
a brick, striking him on the head, and causing instant death. The crime 



160 Capital Punishment 

occurred at Red Springs, N. C. Robbery was the motive advanced by 
the State at the trial. 

As he vsras unable to employ counsel, the Judge assigned law^yers to 
defend him, who in the short time in which they had to prepare the 
case faithfully represented his interests. 

At the February, 1925, term of Superior Court of Robeson County 
he was convicted of murder in the first degree and was sentenced to 
death in the electric chair. 

Requests for Commutation: 

Immediately after his conviction, evidence that he was of weak men- 
tality was presented to the Governor and requests for commutation of 
his sentence were urgently pressed by a number of leading citizens of 
Red Springs. Those requesting commutation included several officers 
of the law as well as practically all of the county officers,, a large num- 
ber of other citizens of the county who heard the trial, and nearly all 
of the attorneys practicing at the Robeson County bar. Many of these 
persons were of the opinion that the prisoner struck his victim with 
no intention of killing him, but only for the purpose of robbery. 

The Judge who presided at the prisoner's trial wrote, urging commu- 
tation, as follows: 

"From the personal appearance of this boy, from his demeanor on 
the stand and through the trial, from his replies to questions asked 
him by me after the verdict, and from the shape of his head, I am 
satisfied that he is sub-normal, and is, in fact, a moron. I questioned 
him at some length after the verdict, and he did not know what was 
happening to him; did not know what the verdict meant and appar- 
ently presented a mind that was totally blank. I confess that the in- 
fliction of the death penalty in this case would, in my opinion, amount 
to a species of legal murder. I did not set the verdict aside because I 
felt certain that the Governor would commute the sentence,, and I so 
stated at the time; and if I had set it aside, I could only send him up 
for thirty years, while the Governor could make it for life — as it should 
be. He is not fit to be at large; but he is also not fit to die. I am 
assured by the Solicitor that he is of the same opinion I am, and feels 
that the boy ought not to die. He is only eighteen years old and I 
appeal .... for the sake of common humanity to commute his sen- 
tence to life imprisonment." 

The Solicitor wrote to the Governor as follows: 

"I have given this matter the greatest consideration, and while I 
am thoroughly convinced that he has committed a first degree murder, 
and a very horrible one, I have reached the conclusion that his sentence 
should be commuted to life imprisonment, and so recommend to Your 
Excellency such a course. 

"My reason for this is that I have talked with a number of men 
who have known this man for some years, and with a physician who 
has known him intimately for five or six years, and a number of men 
who heard the trial have talked to me, and all of these are of the opinion 
that the prisoner, although about the age of eighteen or nineteen years, 
appears really to have the mentality of a child, and they have urged me 
to make this recommendation to you". 

A reputable physician of Robeson County made the following state- 
ment under oath: 

"I have known the prisoner for the past six years, he together with 
his father having lived on my place for five years, and have had occasion 
to observe and have observed both his mental and physical condition. 
After close observation, I will say that I consider him to be an over- 



Capital Punishment 161 

grown Negro boy with a very weak and undeveloped mind. In my 
opinion, the average white boy of ten to twelve years of age has a 
stronger and more developed mind than he does. 

"For the above-stated reasons, together with others that could be 
mentioned, I wish to hereby recommend to the Governor of the State 
of North Carolina, that you commute the death sentence of the said 
prisoner to that of life imprisonment". 

Another reputable physician wrote to the Governor as follows: 

"I am writing to ask the special favor of commuting the prisoner's 
sentence from that of electrocution to that of life imprisonment. I 
did not know the young man before the trial but I attended the trial 
and gave special attention to his statements and attitude during the 
trial and I am thoroughly convinced that his mental condition is far 
below normal. I do not think that he realizes the seriousness of the 
crime committed or the punishment which he must suffer. Since the 
trial, through disinterested persons who have long known him, I have 
learned much to strengthen my belief as to his weakness of mind". 

The Clerk of the Robeson County Superior Court stated: 

"I heard practically all of this trial, and there is no doubt as to 
the boy's guilt. I was impressed with this boy's low mentality. He 
appears to be an overgrown simpleton, and I doubt if he even now, 
realizes the gravity of his condition, and in addition to this, he is rather 
young to suffer the extreme penalty. I understand that he is about 
eighteen or nineteen years of age, which I am sure you will take into 
consideration". 

A prominent member of the Robeson County bar also wrote the Gov- 
ernor: 

"I was present and heard most of the evidence that was introduced 
against the defendant, and also heard the statement of the defendant 
himself. So far as his guilt is concerned, I have no doubt about that. 
I reached the conclusion, however, without suggestion on the part of 
anyone, that this defendant ought not to be electrocuted. In my opinion 
he does not have more intelligence than an average white boy at ten 
years of age. He had every appearance of being simply an overgrown, 
ignorant Negro, with very low mentality. If he had been a young man 
of average intelligence, on account of the horribleness of the crime 
committed, I would have been the last one to have opposed his being 
electrocuted, but I do not believe that it is right, morally or legally, 
to take a young boy up with such low mentality, and because a horrible 
crime has been committed, electrocute him. No one would say that a 
white boy, even at fifteen years of age, with average intelligence ought 
to be electrocuted for any crime that he might commit, and this de- 
fendant is very much below even that in his intelligence. I have written 
this letter without any solicitation on the part of anyone. I am writing 
simply as a disinterested citizen who is opposed to electrocution, or 
death penalty, under the facts which I think I have correctly stated in 
this letter". 

In addition to the letters from the above named officials, the Warden 
of the State's Prison indicated to the Governor that from his observation 
of the prisoner, he was not "mentally responsible". 



162 Capital Punishment 

Commutation qf Sentence: 

Taking into consideration all the facts and circumstances, the Governor 
issued the following statement: "Notwithstanding the fact that it was 
known that the petition for commutation was pending, I received let- 
ters from only three persons opposing commutation. I do not feel that 
the death penalty should be imposed in this case; I therefore commute 
the sentence from death to life imprisonment". 

Mental Condition: 

The prisoner is feebleminded, of moron type. His chronological age 
is 25 years (1928); his mental age, nine years and three months; his 
basal age, eight years; and his intelligence quotient, 58. The range of 
his successes in the tests given him was between the eight and the 12 
year group. 



CASE Y 




Prisoner: Negro, b. Abbeville, S. C, April 9, 1905 

Charge: First Degree Murder 

Sentence: Death 

Electrocuted February 17, 1928 

Mental Diagnosis: Subnormal in General Intelligence and 
Decidedly Psychopathic 
Chronological Age: 23 Years (1928) 
Mental Age: 4 Years, 6 Months 
Intelligence Quotient: 28. 



Physical Characteristics : 

The prisoner was five feet, eight and a half inches in height and weighed 
150 pounds. He had smooth, light brown skin and brown eyes. He 
was 23 years old, having been born in Abbeville, S. C, April 9, 1905. 
Family History: 

The prisoner knew nothing of his paternal grandparents, but said 
that as he was illegitimate, he took the name of his maternal grand- 
parents both of whom were slaves and died of "old age", so the doctor 
said. He knows nothing of his other relatives on his father's side except 
that his father had four brothers and four sisters whose respective ages 
are: 32, 34, 36, 40, 45, 50, 55, and 65 years. All are living. The 
prisoner had one sister and one brother, both younger than he. 
Education : 

He completed the sixth grade at the age of 13 and could read and 
write. He did not repeat any grade in school and was good in arith- 
metic. In other subjects he "did pretty good". 
Occupations : 

He left home for the first time when he was 17 years old, giving 
as his reason that he "got tired staying home". After leaving home, 
he worked as a farm hand in Greenwood County, South Carolina, re- 
ceiving 50 cents a day for his labor. 

A first stated that he and the prisoner accosted B; that he (A) shot 
B, but missed him; that the prisoner then stabbed B in the throat; and 



164 Capital Punishment 

He then worked for another white farmer in the same county, farm- 
ing on half-shares. His next job was with the Portland Construction 
Company as a laborer at wages of $2.50 a day. For several seasons 
he worked for the Farmers' Oil Company in Anderson, S. C, at a daily 
wage of $2.25. After this he was employed in the card room of a 
cotton mill in Anderson, receiving $1.50 a day, a job which he held 
for a year. He was also employed as a concrete worker in road con- 
struction near Anderson. 

The prisoner led a migratory life, and except when he was employed 
as a farm hand and as a cotton mill worker he was not able to hold 
a job for as long as a year at a time. He grew tired of life in South 
Carolina, and moved to Charlotte, N. C, making his home in what is 
known as the "Block House" on Palmer Street. After his arrival in 
Charlotte he met A, another Negro, and they secured employment with 
the Carolina Concrete and Transfer Company. 

Previous Arrests: 

The prisoner's name appears many times on the police blotter in 
Anderson, S. C, and in Augusta, Ga., where he had been arrested for 
petty crimes. Before he went to Charlotte, he had been arrested in 
Anderson charged with house-breaking and carrying a loaded pistol. He 
was found guilty on each charge and was sentenced to 60 days on 
the city streets or a $200 fine. He chose . the sentence, but 14 days 
after beginning it he escaped, going to Georgia. While he was in 
Augusta, he was arrested for gambling, found guilty and fined $5.00 
which was paid by the manager of the gambling club. The prisoner 
seemed surprised to learn that the investigator did not know that when 
police raided a Negro gambling club in Georgia, all fines of those found 
guilty of gambling are paid by the club management. 

Marital Record: 

While the prisoner was in Anderson, S. C, he met a woman with 
whom he lived for six months as man and wife. He said that they 
soon "broke up". In Augusta, Ga., he lived with another woman who 
claims that he was the father of her illegitimate child. He soon left 
this woman and lived with a 19-year-old girl in Augusta. After they 
had been together for 18 months they agreed to disagree. He then 
moved to Greenville, S. C, where he met a woman 23 years old whom 
he married. This marriage lasted for five years, and two children were 
born, both of whom died at birth. During the period of his marriage 
a woman of Anderson, S. C. named him as the father of her illegitimate 
baby who lived five weeks, and also of her one year old boy. She died 
during the year 1926, and her son lives with his grandmother in Ander- 
son. Another Anderson Negress also named the prisoner as the father 
of her four year old illegitimate girl. He acknowledged the paternity 
of all these children and stated that he had from time to time con- 
tributed in some measure to their support. 

Habits, Characteristics and Reputation: 

The habits, characteristics and reputation of the prisoner are indi- 
cated in the two preceding sections. He also drank and was a boot- 
legger on a small scale. 

Story of the Crime Charged: 

Soon after his arrival in Charlotte, N. C, the prisoner began associat- 
ing with a bad group, drinking and bootlegging. In Charlotte he met 
A, and together they planned to hold up B, a white man of Charlotte. 
B resisted, was shot and instantly killed. 



Capital Punishment 165 

that the two rifled his pockets while their victim bled to death. Im- 
mediately after the murder the prisoner and A separated and fled from 
Charlotte, A going to work on a farm in Davie County where he was 
later arrested and charged with the murder of B, while the prisoner 
fled to Rowan County. 

The prisoner had met "a New York woman" who invited him to go 
to Salisbury with her. He spent the day and night with this woman 
in Charlotte before going to Salisbury, and when they reached Salis- 
bury, friends of the woman from the country met the train and carried 
her home. The prisoner asked a Negro boy where he could buy some 
whiskey, and the boy directed him to the home of a white man who 
told him that he did not have any whiskey, but that he did have some 
cocaine which was "far better than whiskey". The prisoner gave the 
white man $2.00 for a small quantity of "snow", and went over to 
the Negro community, located near a school for Negro youth. 

He engaged a room on Bank or Craig Street, he was not sure which, 
and then visited a small restaurant near the Negro school. While in 
the restaurant, he was solicited by a woman who made an appointment 
with him for that night at her home, saying that she was unmarried. 
After she had left the restaurant, the prisoner got up enough courage 
to take a few whiffs of the cocaine purchased earlier in the day. He 
also bought half a pint of whiskey for $1.00 while near the Negro 
school, carried the whiskey to his boarding place and disposed of it 
with two women there. 

He claimed that he lost his memory soon after this, but when he 
was closely questioned he succeeded in remembering that he went to 
some woman's house that night and while he was there a man came 
in who claimed to be her husband. The man accused the prisoner of 
trying to take his wife. He apologized by saying he "was sorry", but 
the woman had told him she was single and had he known she was 
a married woman he would not have come to the house. 

The husband seemed satisfied with this explanation and ordered him 
out of the house. The prisoner went directly to his lodging. Soon 
after he got there the husband of the woman with whom he had made 
the appointment appeared and started to fight. In self-defense the pris- 
oner shot the husband. 

In the meantime while he was in Salisbury he had been suspected 
of knowing something of the killing of B, and a deputy sheriff had 
attempted to arrest him. The prisoner had thwarted his efforts by 
shooting the officer who died after lying in a stupor for one day. 

With these two shootings behind him the prisoner fled to Spencer, 
a small town about four miles north of Salisbury. The day after his 
arrival there a Negro woman in the community, who had learned of 
the murder of the Deputy Sheriff, reported to the Sheriff the presence 
of the prisoner, a stranger in the neighborhood. He was speedily ar- 
rested, charged with the murder of the Deputy Sheriff, convicted of 
first degree murder and sentenced to death in the electric chair. 
Mental Condition: 

The prisoner was 2 3 years old (19 28); his mental age was four years, 
six months; his basal age and range, three to seven years; and his 
intelligence quotient, 38. There was great difficulty in making a sat- 
isfactory diagnosis in this case. The examiner is of the opinion that 
the prisoner was never of normal general intelligence, but is doubtful 
whether there had not been some deterioration, thus making him lower 
mentally than he was originally. There is no question that, in addition 
to the prisoner's sub-normality in general intelligence, he was decidedly 
psychopathic. 



CASE Z 



Prisoner: Negro, b. Americus, Ga., April 4, 1902 

Charge: First Degree Murder 

Sentence: Death 

Electrocuted June 11. 1926 

Mental Diagnosis: Paranoid Dementia Praecox 

Chronological Age: 24 Years (1926) 
Mental Age: 4 Years, 10 Months 
Intelligence Quotient: 30 



Physical Characteristics: 

The prisoner was five feet, nine inches in height and weighed 161 
pounds. He had dark brown skin, brown eyes and black hair. He 
had a history of syphilis. He was 24 years old, having been born in 
Americus, Ga., on April 4, 1902. 

Family History: 

His father is dead, cause of death unknown. His mother is now 
living in Hartford, Conn., having moved there from Americus, Ga., 
early in 1921, and first getting work on a tobacco farm. The" prisoner 
was an only son. 

Early Home Conditions: 

No information could be secured relative to the prisoner's early life. 
Occupations : 

He accompanied his mother to Hartford in 1921, and got a job as 
a hotel porter, receiving $22.00 a week, room and board. He soon 
grew tired of this work, and for two years was engaged as a railroad 
section hand at wages of $3.00 a day. Until three days prior to his 
arrest for the crime for which he was electrocuted, he had been work- 
ing as a laborer with a construction company in the northern part of 
Rowan County, North Carolina. 

Previous Arrests : 

While in Hartford, he was arrested, convicted and sentenced to the 
Connecticut State Prison for not less than three nor more than five 
years for the crime of assault with intent to commit murder. At the 
time of his discharge, he was delivered into the custody of the Con- 
necticut Prison Association, as provided by the statutes of that State, 
and an agent of the association took him to Georgia to an uncle who 
had agreed to give him employment on his farm and friendly super- 
vision. Soon after he had been placed with this relative, the prisoner 
wandered away, and was next heard of in Rowan County, North Carolina, 
where he was arrested for vagrancy and sentenced to the county chain- 
gang for 30 days. Before he had completed his sentence, his mother 
paid his fine and he was released. 

Marital Record: 

The prisoner was unmarried and had been promiscuous in his rela- 
tions with women for several years. 

Habits, Characteristics and Reputation: 

He stated that he "used tobacco and drank anything he could get". 

The physician of the Connecticut State Prison wrote of him as follov/s: 

"The prisoner was received at the Connecticut State Prison on March 

4, 1921, to serve a sentence of not less than three years and not more 



Capital Punishment 167 

than five years. I remember examining him within a few days after 
his commitment to the institution and had personal observation of him 
until his discharge. 

"As to some dates, I am referring to the institution records to which 
I have access, though the facts stated other than dates are from my 
personal memory. 

"At the time of my examination of the prisoner, within a few days 
after his commitment to the institution, I was unable to determine any 
mental deficiency or other active psychosis. I did find, however, that 
he was suspicious, evasive, untruthful, emotionally unstable and very 
erratic. He was unable to make a satisfactory adjustment to the re- 
quirements of the institution routine, and within a short time began 
to come in conflict with other inmates, officers and the rules of disci- 
pline of the institution. He had numerous reports for misconduct and 
was confined in solitary four times between July 1, 1921, and March 
29, 1922. During one period of confinement in solitary, he faked an 
attempt at suicide in order that he might secure his release from sol- 
itary confinement. He afterward admitted to me that this attempt at 
suicide was faked for the purpose mentioned. 

"On March 16, 1922, he became very much excited while employed 
in one of the prison shops and attempted to start a riot. For this in- 
subordination he was confined in solitary confinement from March 16, 
1922, to March 29, 1922, on which date he was removed from the sol- 
itary and placed in isolation where he remained until July 7, 1922, when 
he was certified by me as being insane and was committed to the de- 
partment for insane of the institution. During his confinement in .the 
department for insane, he continued to commit unexpected and unpro- 
voked acts of insubordination and vicious attacks upon officers and other 
inmates. 

"As I stated before, the prisoner was very erratic. At times he would 
be quiet, well-behaved, agreeable, friendly, honest and seemed to under- 
stand his own short-comings. At other times, however, without apparent 
cause and without provocation, he would become greatly excited, would 
show complete loss of self-control and for periods lasting from a few 
hours to several days he would be absolutely irresponsible. During these 
attacks of excitement and irresponsibility he would be very violent and 
would attack anyone who came near him and would destroy everything 
within his reach, which could be destroyed. In the interval between 
these attacks the prisoner would be apparently normal, but because of 
the danger to officers, other inmates and the good order and discipline 
of the institution, and for the man's own good, I advised against his 
discharge from the department for insane and his transfer to the prison 
proper. He was accordingly confined in the department for insane until 
the expiration of his maximum sentence and his discharge from the 
institution on May 7, 1925". 

Story of the Crime Charged: 

From Rowan County, North Carolina, the prisoner went to Winston- 
Salem, engaged rooms at a club, paid part of his dues, and agreed to 
pay the balance on the following Saturday night. It seems that he 
located the laundry where Mr. A, his victim, worked, or, at least, there 
is evidence that he was in that vicinity on the afternoon when the 
crime was committed, June 13, 1925. He appeared at this laundry 
while the money was being counted by Mr. A, and while two other em- 
ployees were present. The prisoner was masked, and upon entering 
the building, demanded that everyone hold up his hands. Upon Mr. 
A's failure to do so, the prisoner immediately shot him. He then rifled 



168 Capital Punishment 

the cash drawer, searched the other men, even taking from them the 
change in their pockets, backed out of the building, and made his escape. 
He was soon apprehended by the police, brought to trial and convicted 
of murder in the first degree at the June, 1925, term of the Superior 
Court of Forsyth County. 

New Trial : 

The question of the prisoner's mental condition and his responsibility 
was brought to the attention of the Judge who presided at his trial, 
and he accordingly set aside the verdict. The Judge stated that he had 
observed the prisoner carefully and was convinced that he was not un- 
balanced mentally, but because of his reported confinement in the crim- 
inal department of the Connecticut State Prison, and taking into con- 
sideration the statement of the Superintendent of the State Hospital 
for the Insane at Raleigh to the effect that he had had some doubts 
about the prisoner's mentality, the verdict was set aside and the prisoner 
was granted a new trial. 

Insanity was practically the only defense set up for the prisoner at 
his second trial. The Superintendent of the State Hospital for the 
Insane at Raleigh testified that, in his opinion, the prisoner was suffer- 
ing from the paranoid type of dementia praecox. It was also the opinion 
of the Chief of Staff of the State Hospital for the Insane at Raleigh, 
who had the prisoner under observation for some time, that there was 
no question that he was insane. 

Question was also raised by the attorneys for the defense as to why 
the prisoner was declared insane by the mental experts of the State of 
Connecticut and confined in the insane department of the Connecticut 
State Prison until the expiration of his maximum sentence unless he was 
insane. 

In rebuttal the State offered many witnesses who testified that they 
saw and talked with the defendant while he was at work on the chain- 
gang of Rowan County and at the quarry immediately following his 
release. Among these witnesses for the State were the chaingang super- 
visor, a foreman in charge of road construction, the superintendent of 
the construction company and the Sheriff of the county. The State did 
not offer nor attempt to offer the testimony of mental experts or other 
medical men familiar with mental diseases. 

The prisoner's second trial resulted in his conviction on the charge 
of first degree murder and he was sentenced to death in the electric 
chair. 

Opinion of the Supreme Court: 

Appeal was made to the State Supreme Court for a new trial. This 
court only passed upon the question of law, arising on the record. The 
following extract from the opinion of the Supreme Court is especially 
interesting in showing the distinction between the medical and legal 
theories of insanity; 

"There is no evidence on this record that defendant had been adjudged 
insane by a court which recognizes the same standard of sanity as that 
recognized and enforced in this State; there is evidence that he had 
been declared insane by the Prison Physician of the State Prison of Con- 
necticut, and in consequence of such declaration had been confined in 
the insane ward of the State Prison. It cannot be held that the declaration 
of the Prison Physician, although made in the performance of his of- 
ficial duty, that defendant was then insane, has the force and effect 
of an adjudication by a court of competent jurisdiction that he was insane 
and therefore not responsible, under the law of this State, for his acts 



Capital Punishment 169 

subsequently committed herein. It is manifest from this record that 
the standards and tests of sanity adopted and acted upon by members 
of the medical profession, who are admitted exj)erts on the subject of 
mental diseases, differ so radically from those recognized and enforced 
by the courts of this State, that it cannot be held as a matter of law, 
that a defendant who has been declared insane by a physician in accord- 
ance with standards and as the result of tests recognized and approved 
by his profession, is exempt from responsibility to the law for his acts, 
subsequently committed, because of the presumption of the continuance 
of the mental condition of the patient, at the time of the declaration 
to the time when the subsequent act was committed in this State. Such 
declaration although made in the performance of official duty, can be 
no more conclusive than the opinion of a physician, given by him as a 
witness, at the trial, that defendant is insane. It is evidence only, to 
be submitted to the jury. The physician deals with his patient, from 
the standpoint of the individual, while the courts, in administering the 
law, must consider the interests of society as well as of the individual. 
The physician would heal those who are sick, in mind as well as in 
body, and where the disease is, in his opinion, incurable and may cause 
his patient to injure himself or others, his duty is to protect the indi- 
vidual as well as others by isolation and confinement, only; the courts, 
however, are required to act upon the philosophy underlying the right 
and duty of the State to punish offenders against its laws, and thus 
not only undertake the reformation of the offender, but also endeavor 
to deter others from the commission of crime by the fear of like pun- 
ishment. Whether or not, a prior adjudication that a person is insane, 
within the meaning of the term "insanity" as defined by the law in this 
State, accompanied by the presumption of the continuance of such 
insanity, should be held to affect the rule as to the burden of proof 
upon the question of sanity, when involved in an issue of guilty or 
innocence of crime, alleged to have been subsequently committed by the 
person so adjudged insane, is not presented by this appeal. 

"It should be noted that defendant in this action, although contending 
that when he killed deceased he was insane because of an incurable 
mental disease, which is progressive in its nature, does not contend that 
he was insane at the time of his arraignment and trial. His plea was 
"not guilty"; not that he was unable to plead, because of insanity. The 
Superintendent of the State Hospital for the Insane (at Raleigh), an 
admitted expert, whose long experience in his profession and whose high 
personal character were doubtless considered by the jury, in passing 
upon the question of defendant's responsibility for his act, testified that 
in his opinion, while defendant is insane, because suffering from a dis- 
ease known as dementia praecox of the paranoid type, he knew that 
his act in shooting deceased was v/rong and unlawful, and would prob- 
ably result in the death of Mr. A. This opinion is well sustained by 
facts and circumstances which the evidence tends to show. 

"We have examined all the numerous assignments of error appearing 
in this record. Counsel, assigned by the court to advise and aid de- 
fendant upon the trial of the issue involving his life and death, have 
been diligent in the performance of their duty to him and to the court. 
However, we find no error upon this record. The charge of the court 
was full, accurate and correct; his instructions as to the law are fully 
supported by the authorities, and we must affirm the judgment. There 
is no error". 

Following the adverse decision of the Supreme Court on the prisoner's 
appeal, his attorneys requested a reprieve of 60 days so that they might 



170 Capital Punishment 

have time to present to the Governor their evidence in a plea for life 
imprisonment on the basis of insanity. 

Governor's Statement Refusing Commutation: 

The Governor in declining the petition for commutation of sentence 
from death in the electric chair to life imprisonment, issued the follow- 
ing statement: 

"The prisoner was convicted of murder in the first degree at the 
June, 1925, term of Forsyth County Court. The question of the prisoner's 
sanity was raised both before the trial and after the verdict of the jury. 
The trial Judge stated at the time, as a part of the official record, that 
he had very carefully observed the prisoner, and saw nothing to indi- 
cate insanity, but in view of the fact that one of the State's leading 
alienists had stated to him that he was uncertain as to whether the 
prisoner was sane or not, and in order that the prisoner's past record 
might be inquired into, he set the verdict of the jury aside and ordered 
a new trial. 

"The prisoner was later tried and convicted of murder in the first 
degree, at which time the question of sanity was likewise before the 
court and jury. The prisoner was ably defended by some of the State's 
leading lawyers and was given two fair and impartial trials. In both 
instances the jury found the facts against the prisoner. 

"Where a prisoner is given a fair and impartial trial, with full op- 
portunity to present all available facts, I do not conceive it to be the 
duty of the Executive to set aside the judgment of the court and the 
verdict of the jury. In this instance the prisoner had the unusual ad- 
vantage of having had two opportunities of establishing the contentions 
that are now presented to me, that is, the question of his insanity. 

"It seems that the prisoner after being released from prison in Con- 
necticut, fled to the State of Georgia, stayed there a few weeks, re- 
turned to Rowan County, served a short sentence on the road, worked 
for a few weeks in a rock quarry, and went from there to Winston- 
Salem. A few days after going to Winston-Salem he went to a laundry 
on a Saturday night, and Mr. A, the deceased, had the money draw open, 
whereupon the prisoner, while well masked, demanded of Mr. A the 
money. When it was not readily given to him he shot Mr. A, killing 
him instantly. He then took all the cash from the cash drawer, and 
at the point of a pistol required two other employees who were present 
to give him all the money they had. After making threats of violence 
against these parties if an outcry was made, the prisoner fled. 

"All of these facts indicate clearly to my mind that the prisoner 
knew well what he was about. Despite the unusual facts against the 
prisoner, I have had the Commissioner of Pardons to make careful in- 
vestigation, even to the extent of going to Rowan County and talking 
with parties where the prisoner had worked. He has likewise talked 
with the prisoner on several occasions, as have other responsible citizens. 
The investigation, like the evidence introduced at the trial, sustained 
the verdict of the jury and the judgment of the court, therefore I have 
declined to interfere with the sentence". 

Just one day before the first anniversary of the murder the prisoner 
was electrocuted at the State's Prison, Raleigh, June 11, 1926. 

Mental Condition: 

The statement of the Superintendent of the State Hospital for the 
Insane at Raleigh in regard to the mental condition of the prisoner 
which was offered as evidence for the defense at his second trial is as 
follows: 



Capital Punishment 171 

"I first saw the prisoner some time in June, 1925, after the murder. 
At the request of his counsel I examined the defendant, first in the jail 
at Winston-Salem, and later in the State's Prison at Raleigh. I also 
observed him at different times over a period of five or six weeks. My 
opinion is that defendant is suffering from a mental disease, known as 
dementia praecox, of the paranoid type. 

"This disease manifests itself in early childhood by peculiarities which 
differentiate the patient from normal children. It develops through 
childhood, and manifests itself by definite symptoms in early manhood. 
The patient is irregular in his habits, and when the disease is of the 
paranoid type, it frequently manifests itself in criminal tendencies. 
Persons suffering with the disease have outbursts of passion, they mani- 
fest hate and desire to accomplish immoral and illegal things of great 
variety. It is a chronic and progressive disease, and is frequently ac- 
companied by a tendency to commit murder. In my opinion, this de- 
fendant is insane. The type of the disease with which this defendant 
is suffering is incurable. 

"In my opinion, based upon my examination of defendant, in jail 
at Winston-Salem, and in the State's Prison at Raleigh, defendant was 
insane on the night of June 13, 1925, the time of the homicide. At 
intervals the paranoid type of dementia praecox know the difference 
between right and wrong in a simple way, but I do not think they fully 
appreciate the nature and consequence of their acts. I do not say that 
defendant did not have sufficient mental capacity on the night of June 
13, 1925, to know right from wrong. He may have known right from 
wrong, but I do not think he knew the full significance or nature of 
his act. I think he knew when he presented the pistol at the man, and 
pulled the trigger that the natural consequence of the act would be 
to kill the man. I do not think he appreciated the nature and conse- 
quences of his act in shooting the deceased, as a normal man would". 

Examination by another mental expert revealed the fact that the 
prisoner's mental age was four years and ten months and his intelligence 
quotient 30, although his chronological age was 24 years. This examiner 
declared that it was impossible on the basis of data at hand to give 
a differential diagnosis, but he stated that there were signs of mental 
deterioration and general paralysis of the insane. He found marked inco- 
ordination in the prisoner who had much difficulty in grasping instruc- 
tions, and in speaking slurred his last words. He was found to be con- 
fused and disoriented for time, and especially for place. This examination 
disclosed the Romburg sign negative and knee jerks present.